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It's the last sound you hear before the gloved fist knocks your jaw into the next time zone, before the spinning back kick folds you in half like an origami demonstration, and before the wicked throw sends you hurtling towards the ground at over 40 miles per hour. You've just experienced life on the wrong side of the ring from Cung Le.
Every field of athletic endeavor has a superstar, someone who stands head and shoulders above the rest. This person has a special magnetism, attracting people to watch him perform feats of athleticism that can only be described as breathtaking, unprecedented, and inspiring. He has marquee appeal, drawing in people who'd otherwise never watch the sport and keeping them completely spellbound with his unmatchable flair and energy.
Try as you might, you can't keep your eyes off these guys. Basketball had its Michael Jordan, golf has its Tiger Woods, soccer has its David Beckham, and the martial arts have Cung Le.
Most martial arts practitioners are either performers or fighters. Cung Le is one of the rare few who make his fights look like performances. While the majority of combat sports bouts can be brutal, harsh, and occasionally boring, Le's freestyle full-contact fights look like something that could only be achieved with a fight choreographer and expert wire-work.
Instead of following the well-worn path of many fighters who specialized in kickboxing or wrestling, Le found his calling in the Chinese full-contact fighting arena. Known as "Sanshou", Chinese rules full-contact allows for kicking and punching, but with the added excitement of high amplitude throws and takedowns. The action in a Sanshou match is constant, dynamic, and exciting, and it fit the Vietnamese-American wunderkind like a glove, giving his personality, athleticism, and spirit the perfect stage on which to shine.
Le's signature techniques looked like a clip from a Hong Kong action flick. His high flying leg scissors takedowns embarrassed even the most seasoned veterans, his suplex throws rattled the brains of the sturdiest roughnecks, and his brilliant kick-punch combinations helped many an opponent get a close-up view of the canvas. While other fighters and promoters were trying in vain to garner any media attention they could, the cameras couldn't get enough of Le, his electrifying moves, his down-to-earth personality, and his rugged good looks. He's been on the cover of almost every martial arts magazine on earth, gracing the covers of Black Belt Magazine and Inside Kung-Fu Magazine numerous times.
Having conquered the Sanshou world in every conceivable manner - as an international medalist, an undefeated ESPN2 Strike Force professional fighter, and wildly successful US Sanshou Team coach - Le grew tired of the criticisms from the pundits who said he was "only" a Sanshou fighter and would never make it big in the mixed martial arts cage. In spite of his powerful KO and tap out victories at the World Shidokan Championships (the triathlon of martial arts where competitors must demonstrate superlative striking and grappling/submission skills) there were still those who loudly questioned whether the human highlight reel could make any such footage in the No-Holds-Barred cage matches.
He silenced them all.
In 2006, Le stepped into the mixed martial arts cage and showed the world that the loose MMA set of rules just meant more opportunities for him to work his magic. His four fights have ended in four resounding victories, all by KO. With his remarkable skills in Taekwondo, Vietnamese Kung-fu, wrestling, Thai boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, combined with a rabid fan-base that grows exponentially with every appearance, Cung Le was a natural sponsorship choice for Throwdown Industries and Knoxx Gear.
So it should come as no surprise that Hollywood has been knocking on Le's door. After appearing in a couple of independent films and an episode of Walker - Texas Ranger, Le is now signed with Insomnia Entertainment and is awaiting the release of his first major feature film, Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter, co-starring David Carradine, Eric Roberts, and Gary Busey.
But don't think for one second that the rest of Cung Le's story is predictable. With such incredible talent to entertain coupled with an unrelenting work ethic, he's going to keep training, keep working, and keep striving to take the public to new heights of martial entertainment in the ring, the cage, and the silver screen!