Young female boxer crowned WBO world champion
Thu Nhi, a martial artist, was inspired to enter the ring after a difficult upbringing led her to believe that she could alter her life through competition. Nhi now aspires to reaffirm the national spirit on a global scale as well.
Selling lottery tickets
The name “Thu Nhi” has captivated domestic fans. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, especially your childhood?
Boxer Thu Nhi: It was not a nice upbringing for me. I have not lived with my parents since I was a child.
My grandma and I lived in a run-down motel in District 11 in Ho Chi Minh City. She has been a part of my life since I was a youngster, and as an adult, she is the person I cherish the most.
As a child, I had to put forth a lot of effort to help my elderly grandmother make ends meet. I recall working as a lottery ticket seller when I was just 7 years old. As I became older, I went to school and worked part-time so that I could assist my grandma out with the bills.
My day began with school and ends with a part-time job. I did everything from dishwashing to working at a restaurant. I would generate money without infringing on the law.
Some days, I was forced to go for miles in order to get the job done and earn a pittance. At the time, and up until now, I've had the belief that I must work in order to provide for myself and my family.
Boxer Thu Nhi.
How has the trauma of a troubled early life helped shape who you are?
I've kept my sorrows to myself since I was a child. The fact that I've been apart from my family since I was a youngster and my feeling of being inferiority may be to blame for my insecurities. I still perceive my life to be more depressing than cheerful. In my mind, I am a lone wolf. After my grandmother's death, I felt even more alone.
How did you cope with the loneliness you felt at the time?
I relied on my job to fill the void in my soul. With the goal of making enough money to provide for my family, I was always thinking about work.
Also, to avoid thinking about or remembering other painful memories, I devote all of my practice time to boxing.
But people always see a confident, grinning Thu Nhi.
That's correct (Laughs).
However, for my own sake, I laugh rather than let other people in my life feel unhappy. Anyone who finds out that I'm depressed will be horrified. This has no beneficial impact on my life or the lives of others around me.
In the event that I can't make others happy, I don't want them to be disappointed or dissatisfied with my own situation.
Despite her grins, the young woman stated she always felt like a loner.
Were you drawn to martial arts because of your early life?
That isn't the case. Being raised with the knowledge that my parents were notoriously tough made it such that I never had problems getting along with others. As a result of the conflict, I am held responsible.
If my childhood experiences have any bearing on my martial arts career, I expect to be the referee since, as a kid, I was always the one to step in and reconcile my friends’ fights.
How did you get into boxing and martial arts?
When I was in high school, I began training in martial arts. For physical education credit that year, the school planned for pupils to study this.
Traditional martial arts and boxing were both taught by my teacher at the time. There are a number of female martial arts practitioners in my social circle, including myself. He must, however, have recognized some positive traits in me since he allowed me to take boxing lessons.
Thu Nhi practices to surmount the difficulties of life.
What have you gone through to get to this point in your life?
I gave away all of my youth. I spent less time hanging out with my buddies and more time practicing.
During those years, the majority of my time was devoted to training. I go to the practice center even on vacations and during Tet.
It is not the same for me as it is for other people. The family situation is also one of the reasons I've begun to feel alone in my life.
Want to give up
Does that lonely life affect your martial arts career?
Boxing practice is not affected by sadness in my case. But there was a period when I was ready to give up my beloved martial art and go on to something else. Those were the most trying periods of my life.
I was ready to give up after a while of training and competing as it wasn't providing me with financial security or a solid personal life. However, my love for boxing remained strong, so I kept going.
|Thu Nhi began training in martial arts in high school.|
You've had some success with boxing thus far. What advice would you offer?
I work out frequently. Prior to the game, I didn't give a hoot about who I was going up against or how I'd fare in the match. When I entered the ring, my mindset was that I should give it all I've got and let the referee make the call on whether or not I won so I won't have any regrets.
Overemphasizing whether we win or lose will put us under strain and prevent us from implementing the proposed strategies.
After defeating Etsuko Tada, winning the WBO mini-flyweight championship, you proclaimed: “I’m from Vietnam”. Why?
It was spontaneous. When I saw the Vietnamese flag, my emotions swelled and I instinctively made that statement. I simply wanted the world to know that I'm Vietnamese and that Vietnamese people are capable of reaching out to the rest of the world.
A lot of people thought I couldn't beat a Japanese boxer. In fact, some folks are even concerned that I'll be knocked unconscious... For this reason, I believe it is important for me to state emphatically that Vietnamese people can reach the entire globe.
|Thu Nhi (right) before the WBO mini-flyweight title match.|
Did you ever imagine you'd be a world-renowned boxer?
That time in my life was so terrible that I could only concentrate about battling for the resources necessary for survival. I've come to regard the challenges of my youth as a source of inspiration and drive to succeed.
What are your plans after the grand success of mini-flyweight WBO world championship?
And I'm ecstatic about it. I am now on convalescence due to the previous title fight's wound. My dream of boxing remains strong. First, I'll defend my belt as long as I can. Then I'll compete in other systems. I wish to unify the martial arts system belts. Finally, I want to help promote Vietnamese boxing globally.
You've reaped rewards after struggles. Could you please share your life lessons?
My challenging existence has required a lot of work on my part. Just keep trying, and one day you will see the fruits of your labor.
The WBO mini-flyweight title bout between Thu Nhi (right) and the more highly ranked opponent was a slugfest.
Thu Nhi celebrated after capturing the WBO mini-flyweight title.
Her goal is to be able to participate in other systems by increasing her weight class.
Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi (1996, An Giang province) began practicing martial arts at aged 14. Thu Nhi won the first semi-professional boxing event in Vietnam in 2015.
After that, she won the National Championship Gold Medal in 2015, 2017, and 2018 and the National Club Cup Gold Medal from 2015 to 2019.
Thu Nhi won the Victory 8 boxing event in 2018 by defeating the world-famous Filipino fighter Gretchen Abaniel.
Thu Nhi entered the professional boxing scene in 2019. Also in 2019, she knocked out Thai boxer Kannika Bangnara in just 6 seconds.
In February 2020, Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi reclaimed the WBO Asia-Pacific mini-flyweight championship by defeating Thai opponent Kanyarat Yoohanngoh in Cambodia.
Thu Nhi is the first Vietnamese female boxer to win a professional title in one of the four main boxing organizations (WBO, WBA, IBF and WBC).
On October 23, 2021, Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi defeated Etsuko Tada (Japan) to reclaim the WBO mini-flyweight title. Thu Nhi became the first Vietnamese boxer to win a world title in the heavyweight division.
Photos provided by the character
Vietnamese boxer Thu Nhi successfully beat her Japanese rival Etsuko Tada on October 23 to claim the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) belt in the mini-flyweight category.