Vietnam boxing champ trains hard for SEA Games glory

By Hoang Nguyen   May 9, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
Vietnam boxing champ trains hard for SEA Games glory
Boxer Tran Van Thao prepares for SEA Games 31. Photo courtesy of Tran Van Thao
National boxing champion Tran Van Thao has been training hard to get to his best form and achieve the target of winning a gold medal at SEA Games 31.

Thao, nicknamed The Trigger, was the national champion for eight consecutive years from 2009 to 2016. In 2017, he became the first Vietnamese boxer to hold the WBC Asia belt.

Earlier this year, Thao said he was willing to put aside all other plans to compete at the SEA Games 31, as his main goal was to win the gold medal for Vietnam.

To prepare for the event hosted by Vietnam, Thao began intense training a few months ago.

"I have been training two times a day and each time lasts about two hours or more. That’s about five hours every day. I went to Phan Thiet to train with the national team, then to Thailand and now I’m in Bac Ninh to complete the preparation.

"It feels great to return to the national team. I feel honored to represent my home country in the SEA Games," Thao said.

During the training process, Thao faced several difficulties since SEA Games will hold amateur boxing events, not for pros. So he had to make some adjustments to fit the bill.

"Professional boxing is like a long run, a marathon, while amateur boxing is at a shorter distance, which means the duration is much shorter. So I had to change my boxing style, training and nutrition. It’s been a long time since I competed in amateur boxing. But as a fighter, you have to adapt to any situation," he said.

Tran Van Thao (brown gloves) during a training match.

Tran Van Thao (brown gloves) during a training match in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Tran Van Thao

Thao also faced some stiff challenges in achieving his gold medal target.

"SEA Games is a regional tournament but there are many strong opponents from the Philippines and Thailand, who have Olympic gold medalists so for me, this will be like a world tournament. But I will try my best to defeat them. I want to win gold for Vietnam and this is also something that I want to achieve for myself."

One of the main difficulties that Thao has faced is his weight, as he has to drop five kilos and maintain it during the tournament.

"I have to move from my weight class (57 kg) to 52 kg and keep it like that until the end of the event, so it was difficult at first. But my coach has made a suitable training and nutrition plan for me, so now I’m well-prepared. All I ate was vegetables and fruits, which helped cleanse my blood since that will enhance my performance during high-intensity training," he added.

A training session of Tran Van Thao. Video courtesy of Tran Van Thao

Recently, Thao revealed he had lost the WBC Asia belt because he didn't try to defend the title. The 29-year-old boxer said he wants to focus on bigger belts. And he will do that after SEA Games 31.

"I will switch back from amateur boxing to pro boxing and continue my journey to conquer the world title. My plan is to fight for the IBA International belt right here, in Vietnam."

In January, the 29-year-old climbed to 39th in the world after knocking out Thai boxer Phayom Boonrueang in the second round of a pro bantamweight match. This marked Thao’s return to international competition after two years of absence because of Covid-19.

The SEA Games 31 boxing tourney will take place from May 15 to 22 in the northern province of Bac Ninh.

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