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World Champion
Martial Arts Fighter

Cung Le
chats with
AC Team's Kris Man

"We as Asian-Americans, definitely have to step up, carry ourselves
well, and get into the mainstream. I believe the tools are out there and if
you've been blessed with the tool, you've just got to reach out and use it."
- Cung Le

Visit Cung Le's Official UsHGear Store!

  Cung Le Demonstrates his Moves

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As of April, 2002 Cung Le has an overall record of 39 wins and 2 losses, with 26 knock-outs. The freestyle martial arts fighter holds two world championship titles as the 2002
#1 ranked ISKA Light Heavyweight and IKF Light Heavyweight World Champion.

He has proudly represented the United States as three time Captain of the U.S. Kung Fu Full Contact Fight Team. Trained in the Sanshou freestyle fighting system popular in China which includes punching, kicking low and high, wrestling and throwing, Cung is famous for his scissor kick, throwing abilities and track record for knocking out twenty six contenders. His life has been the subject of a Discovery Channel television feature and other documentaries.

As a baby Cung fled Saigon in his mother's arms aboard one of the last U.S. Army choppers to lift off of the U.S. Embassy. Cung grew up in San Jose, California and turned to martial arts training for protection. He has founded two martial arts gyms, has his own line of sports gear and urbanwear called UsH! Gear, and is involved in television and film projects including hosting a new TV show called "Off the Hook TV with Cung Le."

Cung Le: The Complete Picture

by AC Team's Contributing Writer Kris Man

What was I feeling as I headed out to interview Sanshou kickboxing world champion Cung Le? I was nervous, nervous to be conducting it with such a widely acclaimed and admired star. My butterflies kicked into overdrive as I approached Le's glass front San Jose training center; the gym was slightly darkened as clients and students had not yet begun to arrive for their scheduled workouts.

As I stepped into the foyer, Le appeared from a side office. His wide smile and friendly handshake immediately put me at ease.

Apologizing for the mess in his office, which really wasn't much of a mess at all, Le led me into the interview area where we began our conversation on his ascent into present success. Le arrived in San Jose, California at two years old after being airlifted out of a war torn Saigon, Vietnam.

As a child, he spent a great deal of time watching martial arts films. When asked about his interest in the martial arts, he sites these films as his first influences. Having been affected, in this case positively, by action films and recently becoming a father, I wondered what his stance was on the debated plethora of violence in the media.

Pointing to his family man values, Le states that, "There is always going to be violence in the media, whether the violence is in the news, an entertainment program, or a video game. It is up to the parents to teach their kids how to discern what is right.

You know, kids are not born to be serial killers, but if you saturate their time with bloody fighting championships and don't explain to them the meaning behind the fighting and the concept of good sportsmanship, of course you're going to have a problem. Kids need to be supervised and it is up to the parents to supervise them."

Parental guidance had much to do with Le's current career path. Le's mother first enrolled him in a Tae Kwon Doe class at ten years old. "I stayed in the class for about eight to ten months, but couldn't continue because it just became too difficult for my mother who worked two jobs."

Several years past and Le began wrestling in eighth grade. He continued to wrestle until his second year in college. "It wasn't until the end of '92 that I took up martial arts again.

With his background as an All-American wrestler, Le had no trouble moving into the world of Sanshou kickboxing, which is a combination of wrestling, traditional kickboxing, and kung fu. "The transition from the punching, kicking, and the element of the throw, which I was really good at, came together really well for me. So when I came onto the scene in '94, I kind of took the martial arts world by storm. So I was blessed, I came in at the right time."

But at the same time, kickboxing was not receiving as much exposure as it did in its heyday of the 1980's. However, Le recognizes the challenges before him and embraces the opportunity to contribute to the vision of mixed martial arts in America and the world.

Like his flexibility in the ring, Le is also a versatile actor able to play both the good and bad guy. He hopes to be taking more action roles in the future, roles that will accentuate his skills and personality. Though there may be great pressure to push on with his career and accept any role, there is no compromising his moral standing when it comes to acting.

"I would love to be in a position to be picky, to be selective. But at this point there aren't a lot of parts to play and you just have to hope that a good role comes your way. But if it's like my make it or break it and it shows me in a bad light, I wouldn't take it." Le has recently wrapped his independent film "The Edge of Darkness" where he plays a hitman with an evil agenda.

Le not only carries the world of kickboxing, he also carries the world of Asian-Americans in the media. Along with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, both of whom he avidly supports and admires, Le is spotlighted as a prominent role model. "As an Asian-American role model, I am a real, live, professional fighter who gets in the ring and competes against the best in the world. I am a world champion in what I do."

"Asian-Americans may not have all the stars, but we definitely have the heart. We as Asian-Americans, definitely have to step up, carry ourselves well, and get into the mainstream.
I believe the tools are out there and if you've been blessed with the tool, you've just got to reach out and use it."

Le spreads the word that our youth can do anything they put their minds to doing. Personal experience has taught him that everyone has had their hardship but we can and have overcome those obstacles.

"Asian-Americans are definitely coming up." Unity is also a large stress in Le's message. When I asked about any issues he'd like to include in the interview, he immediately brings up his passion for unity within the martial arts community.

"I always have a problem with people pitting one martial art form against another. It's almost like racism. They're saying, 'well how come this style is better than this style?" It's almost like saying how come this race is better than this race? And that's why martial arts is 11 million or more strong, while tennis is only about 7 million; but tennis gets so much more exposure because we have this disunity within our group.

If you're a Tae Kwon Doe, Kempo, Kickboxing, wrestling… athlete, support everything. Don't say, 'well that sucks I would never do that'. It's an art, it's a style, it's a person who's doing it. Respect it, work with it, take what's good, and stay together. Then we're one unit and as one unit we're a lot stronger than just being divided."

As if this star athlete isn't busy enough with the movies, video workouts, and 600 students in his two training centers, he's also started his own clothing line to promote this message of unity. With the UsH! clothing label, standing for Unity Starts Here, Le hopes to encourage a greater sense and awareness of community among all people.

"You know, unity starts here, with me, with the Caucasian, with the African-American, with the Middle-Eastern. We've just got to stay united." Le has truly shown himself to be a different kind of martial arts personality, focusing on his attitude rather than performance in the ring.

"Fighting for me takes on so many perspectives. Fighting is my passion. I love to compete,
I love to perform, but in general martial arts helps me to be more complete as a person. Through martial arts, I know what I am made of and I know what I can do. I am a fighter as well as an athlete."

Most importantly though, is his conduct as a martial artist. "When I step into the ring, I will show class. When I step out of the ring, I will show class. I will carry myself so when the other kids, or other people, or other martial artists look up to me, they won't pick up any bad habits or influences. If I carry on being a good person, that will translate well to a kid who may be on the crossroads."

Fighting has become more than a successful career path for this martial artist, it has become a tool through which to spread his positive energy to the community. "Whether it's the Asian-American community or whether it's any community, they look up to me as a fighter, as an athlete, and as a star.

"I just be myself, you know, never let it get to my head." And he has certainly not let any of his fame get to his head. Throughout the interview Le has taken care to emphasize his family values and down to earth attitudes regarding his celebrity. "My family is really tight and supportive. The only thing is that I have to travel a lot, but they are understanding."

He accentuates his point about family time with a positive shake of the fist, "I always make time; gotta have family time". So what about his baby son? Is Cung Le Jr. going to grow up to be a fighter like his father? Le responds with a smile, "You know, that's a question a lot of people ask. But it's going to be his decision and I will support him in anything he decides to do that is healthy. I am definitely going to support him if he wants to be the best soccer player in the world or best Asian-American running back. It doesn't matter. If he wants to do it, he'll have my one hundred percent [approval]. I just want him to be successful and as complete of a human being as possible." Spoken like the true family man that he is.

-- Kris Man

AsianConnections wishes to thank writer Kris Man for her interview with champion Cung Le. Kris is a native of California and is studying at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Kris has special interests in profiling Asian Americans and helping the Asian Pacific American community.

Read more about Cung Le and his previous events below!:

December 15, 2001

San Jose, California

Hollywood, Martial Artists and Hip Hop stars came together December 15, 2001 to raise money for the children of victims of the September 11th tragedy and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

The event staged at the San Jose Event Center featured the best in the hip-hop world with dazzling heart-pounding foot-stomping performances from New York City's legendary Crazy legs and The Rock Steady Crew, D'Wayne Wiggins of Tony Toni Tone and DJ AJAXXX and Nocturnal Sound Krew.

Cung Le, three time Captain of the U.S. National Team and the ISKA Light Heavyweight World Champion, headlined the event competing against UFC’s Shonie "Mr. International" Carter for the World Light Heavyweight Title of the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF).

The show featured Hollywood-style sound, lighting, staging, and special effects by 3B Productions which produces concert staging for Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Van Halen, and Jon Bon Jovi.

Cung Le has a record of 38 wins and 2 losses, with 26 knock-outs, not including this fight. Carter has 40 wins, 7 losses and 16 knock-outs. The #1 ranked IKF Heavyweight, #2 Ranked UFC Middleweight and former Collegiate All-American Wrestler, Carter is famous for his spinning back fist, slippery fighting style and track record for knocking out sixteen contenders.

"I evaded his punches, and was able to counter and be offensive in my fighting," said Le. Le did not miss all of Carter's attacks however, when Carter did a swift head butt to Le's head which created a cut on Le's face above his right eye.

"I came into the ring punching, kicking high and low and throwing," said Le.

Le won all five rounds by unanimous vote from the judges scoring.

The event also featured five other championship level matches with kickboxing champions including Rudi Ott, US Middle-Weight Champion, and teen sensations and US National Team members Santos Soto and Jenna Castillo.

Event sponsors included the Hyatt Sainte Claire Hotel, "Training Day" motion picture designers Soldado Clothing, Energy Drink manufacturer G-Up Corporation, award winning DJs from the International Turntablist Federation, R&B heavyweight Hip,,, and the International Kickboxing Federation.

The half time show was produced by Hip and the International Turntablist Federation featuring New York's Hip Hop dance legend Crazy Legs and the Rock Steady Crew and music's top DJs Apollo, Vin, and Ajaxx.

"We are also very pleased to be donating 100 percent of our event net proceeds to The Toys for Tots Foundation and Twin Towers Orphan Fund. We've all been touched by our national crisis and are aware that holidays are the hardest time for children in need. This is our way of giving back."

"G-Up is always ready to support Cung and his projects," said Dominique Nguyen, G-Up Corporation President and CEO. The fact that this is a charity event is no accident as Cung has always demonstrated his affection and concern for all children in need."

Net proceeds from United for the Children are being donated to the US Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Foundation and the Twin Towers Orphan Fund. Toys for Tots has been a fixture in holiday charity for needy children since 1947. Although more recently founded, the Twin Towers Orphan Fund is a volunteer organization founded to support the orphaned children of the September 11th rescue workers and victims.

All funds are being independently handled by the San Francisco CPA firm Shea, Labagh, Dobberstein.

Contact for more information.

July 21, 2001:

For more photos, click here!

Renowned Kickboxing World Champion and San Jose native Cung Le joined forces with other martial arts superstars in a charity "fight night" and exhibition match for West Valley Junior College July 21, 2001.

Le, an alumni of West Valley and a fast rising international sports star, organized the "Born To Fight Shootout" tournament along with internationally acclaimed fighters Bob Wall, Frank Shamrock, and Martial Arts Superstar Chuck Norris. ?br>
Norris, Le, Wall, and Shamrock are founding members of the World Black Belt organization (WBB), an international association of professional and amateur martial artists and competitors. The morning show from the No.1 hip hop radio station (better known as The Dog House) participated in a big way. One of the Nation's best known DJ's (Ajaxx) did the Spinning and MC'ing the event.

San Jose natives and martial arts superstars Frank Shamrock and Bob Wall from "Enter the Dragon" fame were there.

3B Productions, producers of shows for Don King Productions and Van Halen, put together a great production and laser show. Pachi Calvo, former Head chef at the renowned San Francisco restaurant Postrio prepared a food menu that was "off the hinges!"

Cung brought together the best amateur fighters in the nation.  Several members of the US national Kung Fu team fought for national titles, and Cung did a fight exhibition with Rudi Ott - the captain of the U.S. National Team.??

"Cung is this generation's martial arts superstar," said Bob Wall, CEO of World Black Belt and best known for his starring role in Bruce Lee's classic "Enter The Dragon." ?Supporting him and this event is part of the WBB's mission to encourage martial arts and sports education and give students and amateur competitors every opportunity to grow into their talent and fully enjoy the sport."

The World Black Belt organization is the first internet-based membership association. With an international membership numbering in the tens of thousands, the organization is quickly becoming the center for martial arts information, discussion, and education.

"Supporting Cung and the Born To Fight Shootout is what WBB is all about," said Chuck Norris. ?West Valley is just one example of where professional and amateur martial artists can band together and support a worthwhile sports education programs. ?br>
Teaching new generations a martial art is to also teach them about integrity, discipline, and achievement.  These are important lessons at any age." The Born To Fight Shootout" featured the best amateur kickboxers in the nation, including several members of the U.S. National Team that will be competing at the World Championships later this year. ?br>
The highlight the event was an exhibition match between Cung Le and the Captain of the U.S. National Team, Rudy Ott. "We have some of the best amateur martial artists from around the world coming to this tournament," said Le. "This is a fight for the U.S. Kickboxing Title and they are taking it very seriously. "It's a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys a real competition between champions."

"Born To Fight" is a joint production of USH! Entertainment, the World Black Belt Organization, G-Up Energy Drink, and West Valley Junior College. For more information about Cung Le, the WBB, or the Born To Fight Shootout, visit

 Check out AC Team's exclusive chat with Cung Le summer 2000 in Las Vegas.
AC Team was invited to attend the International Sport Kickboxing Association's Championship at Bellagio Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas in Summer, 2000.

Summer, 2000

Bellagio Hotel and Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada


    Our ringside seats were so close that we shook with the intensity of each punch and kick. At any moment the athletes could slam against the ropes almost on top of us.

     The fights are for real. There were some matches that the athlete had been knocked out cold. Paramedics rushed in to give emergency care. It is a violent, no holds barred type of sport that makes professional wrestling look downright wimpy by comparison. (We still love you, The Rock!)

     AC Team caught up with headliner Cung Le, just before he won the International Sport Kickboxing Association light heavyweight championship and K-1 USA title against Mohammed Laminn Keita before the cheering audience at the Bellagio Resort.

     Le has a career filled with victories. He is 10-0 with seven knockouts as a professional, and 36-2 with 24 knockouts including his amateur career.

   The K-1 USA title pits athletes using different styles of martial arts. Le wowed the crowd with his complex, action packed punches and kicks. His martial arts style, San Shou, is a style that the Chinese developed, merging traditional boxing, kung fu and Greco Roman wrestling. There's never a dull moment. "For every move, there is a counter move." "There is rarely a lull. There are no clinches with the fighters holding the way they do with hand-to-hand combat sports, because if one fighter tries to clinch in San Shou, the other could body slam him," said Le.

     Le, 28, says his priority isn't to be one of the best in the world (which he is), but to be a good role model for young people. Born in Saigon and raised in San Jose, California, since he was 2, Le turned to martial arts at an early age for protection.

     Le won the California State wrestling championship at 158 pounds while in junior college. "As a martial artist, my goal is not how many titles I can win but how many people I can touch." Le owns two martial arts gyms in San Jose, and endorses a line of cardiovascular fitness products that he has developed. His new projects include film, television,video and Internet projects.

On martial arts "action stars" Jackie Chan and Jet Li:

  On Jackie and Jet

Cung Le: I feel that Jackie Chan and Jet Li have done a lot for the martial arts. They brought it into the mainstream. Actually, Jackie Chan brought it into the mainstream over here, and put a big dent in the market.

Everyone is into the martial arts, everyone is into kung-fu fighting now, and Jet Li followed and he's doing a great job. And I hope one day, you know, I don't want to be fighting for the rest of my life even though I have two gyms and I teach, I would really like to be in front of the camera.

So hopefully [when] one of these guys get tired and they want to move on to producing or directing, hopefully they can direct me and let me have a go at it.

On his acting career:

Cung Le: I'm shooting [a film] for the Internet, and it is a comedy and the other one is an independent film.

I'm going to be shooting [a film] called "The Edge of Darkness" where I play a bad guy, a hitman, but hey, you know, you gotta start somewhere.

I start out also as a hitman, I become the grim reaper, and its an action kung fu comedy, so it's going to be good, and I film that actually one week after this fight. I would love to do more in the movie industry.

For more photos, click here!

AsianConnections thanks Cung Le and AC Team's Mike Kai, Kris Man and Paul Lee

Check out Cung's official site
Read more about Cung Le in the SF Chronicle's SF Gate online



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