Vietnam's world muay champion slams Canadian fighter for 'promoting his own image’

By Lam Thoa   February 28, 2018 | 02:32 am PT
Vietnam's world muay champion slams Canadian fighter for 'promoting his own image’
Canadian martial artist Pierre Francois Flores in Ho Chi Minh City on February 27, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Liem
Pierre Francois Flores is back on a mission he says is to restore the credibility of traditional martial arts.

Senior artist in the Chinese self-defense martial art of Wing Chun, Pierre Francois Flores, is in Vietnam for the second time to once again challenge local fighters on what he says is a journey to promote the authenticity of traditional martial arts, after winning two fights last year.

Flores became known across Asia last year after responding to a challenge from Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Xu Xiao Dong. Xu had issued the challenge to all traditional Chinese martial arts masters following a 10-second victory over a Tai Chi master that went viral.

Xu, a 38-year-old self-taught MMA fighter, said that the traditional martial arts have become outdated and are now only good for keeping the body fit, while freestyle fighting and boxing are more effective when it comes to combat.

In Flores' invitation on Facebook, he referred to Xu’s fight as a “necessary awakening in the face of a phenomenon that threatens the credibility of martial arts.”

The fight between Xu and Flores never transpired. 

In a interview with VnExpress on Wednesday, Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat, who has made history by becoming the first Vietnamese fighter to win the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur World Championship seven times, spoke differently about Flores' motivation in Vietnam.

Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat

Nguyen Tran Duy Nhat said Pierre Francois Flores is not qualified enough to represent Vietnamese martial arts.

In his latest statement, Flores said Vietnamese people are angry at him because he does not represent the country's martial arts. What do you think about that?

Flores was not particularly humble when he said that. He is not qualified enough to say that he can represent Vietnamese martial arts. A true martial artist should be humble, even if they have become a great master.

What are your comments on Flores' victories over Vietnamese fighters Doan Bao Chau and Hoai Linh last year, and his return to Vietnam this year to challenge another local fighter?

I've kept an eye on all these events, and I really think that Flores is just trying to promote his own image. There’s always a crew behind him to help him do that. They learn about local fighters and let him hand pick fighters who are weaker than him. More than a few professional fighters in Vietnam have challenged him to a fight, but Flores has not accepted any of them. If he really wants to exchange experience and skills to improve himself and learn more about martial arts, he can do that quietly by himself instead of making a scene in the media and having a crew with him wherever he goes.

Canadian martial artist Pierre Francois Flores defeats Vietnamese karate black belt Doan Bao Chau in Ho Chi Minh City in July, 2017

From the videos of his recent fights, what is your evaluation of Flores?

I'll be straight about this and hope people don't think I'm arrogant. Other fighters in Vietnam also agree that Flores is no master. Frankly, he is at an intermediate level.

We don’t need a master to defeat him, any martial arts athlete in the Vietnamese national team could do it.

So why haven't you or any other fighters at your level challenged Flores to a fight?

We want to but we’re not allowed. The authorities have not given their permission for any martial arts athletes to fight Flores. We have to follow the rules, especially because Flores did not seek permission for his previous fights here and just does what he wants. If we hurt him in a fight that is not authorized, it would be a big problem because he is a foreigner.

After all, morality is of the highest importance in martial arts.

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