New! World Champion
Martial Arts Fighter
Team's Kris Man
as Asian-Americans, definitely have to step up, carry ourselves
well, and get into the mainstream. I believe the tools are out there
you've been blessed with the tool, you've just got to reach out
and use it."
Cung Le's Official UsHGear Store!
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
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.
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."
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.
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,
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.
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."
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
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
"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."
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.
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.
me takes on so many perspectives. Fighting is my passion. 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."
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."
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.
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
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.
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!:
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.
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.
into the ring punching, kicking high and low and throwing,"
Le won all five
rounds by unanimous vote from the judges scoring.
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
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 Hop.com, AsianConnections.com,
RottenTomatoes.com, and the International Kickboxing Federation.
time show was produced by Hip Hop.com 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
"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
"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."
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
are being independently handled by the San Francisco CPA firm
Shea, Labagh, Dobberstein.
for more information.
more photos, click
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.
Jose natives and martial arts superstars Frank Shamrock and Bob
Wall from "Enter the Dragon" fame were there.
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."
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 www.cungle.com.
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.
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.
martial arts "action stars" Jackie Chan and Jet Li:
Jackie and Jet
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.
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.
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.
his acting career:
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.
more photos, click
thanks Cung Le and AC Team's Mike Kai, Kris Man and Paul Lee
Check out Cung's official site CungLe.com
Read more about Cung Le in the SF
Chronicle's SF Gate online