Aung La Nsang shares tricks of the trade ahead of ONE bout
BEFORE he steps into the cage tomorrow night at ONE Championship: State of Warriors, Aung La Nsang spent some time flexing his popularity with the community yesterday and delivered some inspirational words to a group of Yangon students.
Aung La Nsang visited the Myintha Myo Oo Child Development Center and Monastic School in South Okkalapa township, where he spoke with students about the importance of perseverance and hope in the face of adversity. But it wasn’t all abstraction – the 31-year-old fighter, known as “the Burmese Python”, also demonstrated a few useful self-defence moves to help students protect themselves.
“I feel very connected to the youth here,” Aung La Nsang said. “They remind me a bit of myself when I was young growing up in Yangon.”
Aung La Nsang, who was originally born in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina, was granted asylum to the United States when he was 18 years old. Having to flee the country of his birth and leave his friends and family behind was one of the darkest times of his life, the fighter said, but seeing today’s youth gives him hope for Myanmar’s future.
“Children are the future of mankind and it’s important for us as adults to guide them,” he said.
Aung La Nsang now resides in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife and 15-month-old son, Aung De, where he trains with Crazy 88 gym. He also makes the eight thousand mile journey back a few times a year to visit Myanmar, where, aside from his history as a refugee, he is the country’s biggest mixed martial arts celebrity. A recent trip to the capital saw him mobbed by selfie-seeking fans at restaurants, rest stops, and monasteries.
“Myanmar is my mother. It’s the country that made me who I am today,” Aung La Nsang said. “I don’t see myself as the biggest sports star here. Instead, I am honoured and I am very humbled. I will try my best to be a positive role model to everyone.”
Aung La Nsang (18-9-0, 1NC) wasn’t just in town to socialise, though: He’s preparing to headline State of Warriors, ONE Championship’s third mixed martial arts event in Myanmar tomorrow. The “Python” will be squaring off against Polish middleweight contender Michal Pasternak (11-1-0) in a three-round bout with regional title implications on the line: Tomorrow’s winner will look to challenge reigning ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash.
Aung La Nsang enters the match riding the confidence of three consecutive victories in his past ONE bouts, including over Egypt’s Mohamed Ali in ONE: Union of Warriors in March that marked his professional debut in Myanmar. None of his 18 professional victories have reached the final bell: Aung La has bested his opponents by either knockout or submission.
In Pasternak, however, Aung La faces his most daunting challenge yet: the 6-foot, 2-inch “Polish buzzsaw” has also lost only one previous match, to Brazilian jiu jitsu legend Roger Gracie in the first ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship, and has a punishing style that wears down his opponents. Of his 11 wins, five have come via decision.
A full three-round brawl historically has not been to Aung La’s advantage – every one of his 18 professional victories have come before the final bell, either by knockout or submission. Pasternak is also “fighting down” a weight class, from his typical heavyweight and light heavyweight , which may give him an extra spark – and even more stamina – facing the “Python”.
But it’s a challenge that Aung La is keen to take on. And he’ll be sure to have the support of an adoring hometown crowd behind him when he enters the cage tomorrow at Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
“There is no greater feeling than performing for all of my people here at home,” Aung La Nsang said. “I am truly honoured for this opportunity and I will do my best inside the cage on fight night.” – Staff
Aung La Nsang tutored students Myintha Myo Oo Child Development Center some martial arts moves ahead of his clash with Poland’s Michal Pasternak tomorrow.