Thoeun Theara, a prominent Kun Khmer fighter, has been selected by international business publication Forbes Magazine as one of this year’s “30 under 30 Asian Class of 2024”.

Listed under the entertainment and sports category, he was chosen for his contributions to the world of sports and for his role in elevating the traditional Cambodian martial art Kun Khmer onto the global stage.

Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 Asia list celebrates 300 young entrepreneurs, leaders, and trailblazers across various sectors, highlighting those who have had a substantial impact in their fields before turning 30. 

The selection process involves thorough evaluations by Forbes' editorial staff and a panel of industry experts.

This year, the list features a diverse group who have had remarkable success in their respective fields, including entertainment, sports, technology and social entrepreneurship.

Prime Minister Hun Manet extended his congratulations to Theara via a social media post.

“Congratulations to Kun Khmer boxer Theara Thoeun on making Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 Asia Class of 2024, which includes successful entrepreneurs, influencers and others who have made great strides in their careers. Forbes is a famous magazine, best known for its ranking of the world's billionaires," he wrote. 

“Theara's journey in Kun Khmer, a traditional Cambodian martial art form akin to Muay Thai, has been marked by perseverance, skill, and an unwavering commitment to his craft,” according to Forbes’ profile of the young fighter.

“His achievements in the ring have not only brought him personal acclaim but have also shone a spotlight on Kun Khmer, fostering greater recognition and appreciation of the sport both within Cambodia and internationally,” said Forbes. 

Theara's inclusion in the prestigious list is a testament to his dedication.

Eh Phouthong, Theara’s coach, expressed his delight that his student was featured in the world-famous Forbes magazine, and also shared his appreciation for Manet’s support for Kun Khmer. 

"I would like to thank the prime minister for helping to honour our Kun Khmer martial arts. I am proud that he loves Khmer martial arts," Phouthong told The Post. 

“I am also very happy that Theara has done great work for the country and brought it to the world stage,” he said.

Phouthong noted that his club currently trains about 40 boxers, many of whom compete internationally. 

Reflecting on his own career, he noted that the promotion of Kun Khmer was not as extensive during his time, and he is very happy with the widespread coverage of Theara's achievements in Forbes magazine.

As Theara continues to train and compete, his success serves as an inspiration to aspiring fighters and young athletes across Cambodia and beyond.

Threara first rose to fame in 2022, when he became the first Cambodian boxer to win a title at a Thai Fight event. 

Thoeun Theara sends one of his signature kicks into the chest of a Thai opponent. Supplied

He claimed the 72.5kg King's Cup Championship by knocking out Thai home-grown star Saiyok Pumpanmuang in Thailand.

After defeating Saiyok and Beckham Banchamek, Theara was ranked number one in the World Muaythai Organization (WMO) middleweight (72.5 kg) category.

In April 2023, Theara won the Techo Santepheap Kun Khmer World Championship belt by defeating Romanian Alex Bublea in the 72kg weight class, with 500,000 viewers watching the live stream on social media.

On November 23 last year, Theara won the 72kg Kun Khmer 8 MEN Tournament IPCC Kun Khmer World Championship in Phnom Penh, receiving a pickup truck from Ganzberg as a special prize.

“Theara is considered one of the most successful Kun Khmer fighters and is revered in Cambodia as their version of Bruce Lee, known for his deadly kicks and furious punches,” according to Malaysian newspaper, The Star.

Theara's recognition on the Forbes list not only honours his individual accomplishments, but also shines a spotlight on the rich cultural heritage of Cambodia.