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Boxer Nguyễn Thị Thu Nhi Becomes Vietnam's First WBO Belt Holder

In a heated bout that lasted all ten rounds, Nguyễn Thị Thu Nhi bested Etsuko Tada and walked away with the World Boxing Organization (WBO) title in the mini-flyweight division.

Taking place just one day after her 25th birthday, Nhi was considered the underdog in the match, with less experience and lower ranking compared to then-champion and top-ranked Tada. Despite her shorter stature and young age, she pulled out a close 96-94 judge's decision.

"This is a meaningful victory, to become the first female boxer in Vietnam to win a WBO World belt. I didn’t expect that I’d come this far. I have realized my dream after putting all of my passion and strength into this fight as a Vietnamese citizen. This is a victory for the Vietnamese martial arts scene," Nhi said after Saturday's fight

Nhi's path to the pinnacle of the sport is inspiring. She grew up in a dilapidated District 11 home with her grandmother and had to help the family earn money by selling food and lottery tickets on the street. She fell in love with martial arts at age 14 and then transitioned to boxing at the advice of her coaches. She won multiple national gold medals as an amateur and moved into professional fights in 2019 when she joined Saigon's CLB Buffalo boxing club. 

In February 2020, she beat Thai boxer Kanyarat Yoohanngoh to claim the WBO Asia-Pacific champion belt. The victory made way for her to take on Tada for the worldwide title.

Now that she holds the WBO belt, boxing insiders say she will have many opportunities to defend her title around the world.

[Photo via Bao Quang Ngai]

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