Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Congratulates Myanmar’s MMA Champ During Meeting in Tokyo
By The Irrawaddy 21 October 2019
YANGON—State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday found some time during her ongoing visit to Japan to congratulate Myanmar’s world-renowned mixed martial arts fighter Aung La Nsang on his recent ONE Championship victory. The Kachin fighter retained his world championship title by defeating challenger Brandon Vera in Tokyo on Oct. 13.
Aung La Nsang, popularly known as the “Burmese Python”, and his wife Katie Oliphant and their son Aung Dee, 5, met the State Counselor in her hotel room in Tokyo. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is in the Japanese capital to attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony on Tuesday. In a post on his Facebook account, the Kachin fighter said, “My family got a pleasant surprise to meet the State Counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi. She congratulated me on my @onechampionship match.”
He also posted a picture of the smiling quartet, with the young boy sitting in his dad’s lap.
“Somewhere in our conversation, I felt like I was talking a close family I’ve know for my entire life. It’s amazing how sweet and relatable she is. My family loves her and she inspires me to be a better person,” he writes.
The “Burmese Python” and his family have been touring around Japan since his victory.
“Thank you Aunty Suu, this has been the highlight of my Japan trip,” he added, referring to the Monday meeting.
The Myanmar-born mixed martial artist, who has settled in the US state of Florida, is hugely popular in Myanmar due to his ONE middleweight and light heavyweight championships. His latest match sparked such excitement among spectators in Myanmar that four people died while watching the event live on TV, mostly due to heart attacks.
Apart from his martial arts skills, Aung La Nsang is known for his admiration of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. At their first meeting in 2017, he gave her a pair of his gloves as a present. The duo also shared accounts of their trials, challenges and battles. He wrote at the time, “I pray that she will impact the leaders of today, our youth tomorrow, so we can all live in harmony, peace and prosperity.”
The Kachin fighter’s international popularity has also attracted attention from the Myanmar military, which has honored him twice.
In July 2018, the country’s military chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing invited Aung La Nsang to the Ministry of Defense in Naypyitaw to congratulate him with an official statement and a cash prize, claiming the ethnic Kachin fighter embodies the indomitable spirit of Myanmar, and the pride of the nation.
Additionally, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has appointed Aung La Nsang a Myanmar tourism ambassador in a bid to promote the country’s tourism sector.
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