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Saya U Duang Ni’s long and prolific career in Lethwei has been a lifelong pursuit despite the highs and lows of the sport. In this new interview, he shares with us his early years as a competitor and his eventual transition to working behind the scenes, not only as a prominent jurist, but as one of the most colorful recognizable announcers in the sport.

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On February 1, 2021, the Tatmadaw, or Burmese military, staged a pre-dawn coup and took control of the country following a general election which Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s NLD(National League for Democracy) party won by a landslide. By evening, most of the country's civilian leaders, including Aung Sun Suu Kyi, were put under house arrest, and a new cabinet was put in place by the Tatmadaw.

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Saya U Moe Pa Lae passed away on January 21, 2021 – after suffering from a prolonged illness. My fond memories of him go back to earlier times in Yangon where we first met. At the time, he was still an active competitor. Years later, we were able to meet again at his camp to film him training his fighters. I was hoping to see him again for the filming of Born Warriors Revisited, but that won’t happen now. He will be remembered, however, for his contributions to the sport of Lethwei – not only as a competitor, but as a coach and mentor to the many fighters he expertly guided in the ring.

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Saya Win Zin Oo is the Founder and Senior Coach of the Thut Ti Lethwei Club in Yangon. He is a familiar face to our audience, having appeared throughout the Born Warriors trilogy. In this interview, he brings us up to date on his newest projects, and the current state of Lethwei.

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U Sai Zaw Zaw has been Lethwei’s top promoter since he entered the sporting arena close to three decades ago. He gives us an inside look at the business of promoting in a changing Myanmar landscape, his toughest challenges, and his hopes and plans for the future.

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Our newest interview features Soe Than Win, who has been one of the leading Lethwei promoters since the 1990s and is now Vice President of the World Lethwei Championship organization. He discusses the many challenges he faced while promoting Lethwei matches in the past, and what the future holds for the sport.

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Since the opening of the country, Lethwei has grown internationally on the back of newly formatted competitions aimed at a global audience. Its development of the sport has followed a very different trajectory than Thailand with Muay Thai, and Cambodia with Pradal Serey — sports that slowly built up over time to develop into what they are today.

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We hope our new Interviews section will introduce readers to a wide variety of people involved in Lethwei throughout the years. The first two interviews feature martial artist and author Zoran Rebac, whose travels to Myanmar began in the early ‘80s, and educator/humanitarian and Japan and Myanmar Lethwei coordinator Takamori Tatsuya, who began his involvement with Lethwei and Myanmar in 1997.

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The original Born Warriors trilogy of documentaries charted the art of Lethwei from the late 1990s up until early 2016. The prophecy of Born Warriors Redux: Bound Fists unfortunately has become a reality as Lethwei became just another commodity to export by wealthy businessman. The forward movement and expansion of any sport beyond its own shores and its popularity both within its country of origin and beyond is positive but what is really happening to the sport internally?

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We did a poll on our Born Warriors Facebook page on May 27, 2018 to determine if this old footage from 1896 was Lethwei or Naban.

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The Thai and Burmese have competed against each other for centuries, both in times of war and times of peace.

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Lethwei is a diverse and durable fighting sport that has evolved over the decades. It has slowly risen from the ashes of military control which limited its expansion to global notoriety in the wake of the opening of Myanmar.

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Were the ancient Burmese, Thai, Cambodian and Lao bare-knuckle/bound-fist bouts a fight to the death, or were they fought for the most part in a more civilized manner?

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We were very saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Saya U Aung Pwe Maung, the leader of the Aphyu Yaung Lethwei club. His considerable knowledge and wealth of experience was a major asset to our project. A wonderful coach, referee, father and former Lethwei competitor. It was always a joy seeing him and being around his fighters.

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Moe Thee was a friend who was featured throughout our Born Warriors documentary saga and in our online clips. He adopted the name Moe Thee when he began to compete as a teenager. Moe was a Lethwei competitor, promoter, teacher and went on to become a 2009 48kg Golden Belt champion.

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Born Warriors Giveaway

Five lucky winners won a free DVD copy of Born Warriors Redux: Bound Fists during our special giveaway promotion that ended on September 30th.

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Enter now to win a free DVD of Born Warriors Redux: Bound Fists.

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New Born Warriors Deluxe 4 Disc Edition

The brand new Born Warriors Deluxe Edition includes all three award-winning Born Warriors documentaries, plus a bonus disc which features the newly updated Born to Battle: Burma vs. Thailand documentary and the extended edits of Fight Day & Bouts from the Archives V2, which shows rare and unseen archive footage that immerses the viewer into the competitive world of Lethwei. The complete 4 Disc set in limited DVD or Blu-ray editions runs over seven hours.

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Born Warriors Wikipedia Entry

Our new Wikipedia entry adds additional details and provides an outstanding overview to how the documentaries were made and finally released.

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Black Belt Essential Gear Section

Our Born Warriors Special Edition 3 Disc set was a recent Essential Gear pick for the months of February and March 2017.

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