First Lao-American MMA Fighter Enters the Octagon Driven by Memories of Son
Andre Soukhamthath, the Lao-American MMA fighter with a big match in Las Vegas this weekend, stumbled into fighting. He’d dreamed of playing soccer and even had college scholarships based on his potential as a goalkeeper. But his then girlfriend, now his wife Jamie, got pregnant and Soukhamthath decided he needed to work rather than study. A gym down the street from his job beckoned, and a friend suggested he might enjoy boxing. From the first session, “I was addicted to it,” Soukhamthath said. “I didn’t miss a day.” Boxing led to Mixed Martial Arts, and when Jamie gave birth to the couple’s first son, LeAndre, in 2007, training helped Soukhamthath process his son’s diagnosis of epidermolysis bullosa, a rare skin disease that causes extremely fragile skin and blistering. When the child died after nine months, Soukhamthath got serious about MMA, which incorporates techniques from boxing, wrestling, judo, jujitsu, karate, Muay...
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