Viet Nam News
An injury caused by a serious accident 10 years ago did not deter Nguyễn Thị Thanh Trúc from taking up martial arts, Văn Đạt reports.
Inner Sanctum: How did the accident occur?
I was born in a poor family with eight children in the Central Highlands’ Đắk Lắk Province, and so had to start working early to support my parents.
I had a serious accident when I was in 10th grade. My twin sister and I went to the forest and stayed there for more than a week to cut down trees for a woman who planned to use the land for sugarcane cultivation. We accepted the job to earn money.
I and others were seriously injured when a truck carrying the wood and us overturned. My leg broke and I had to undergo two major operations in my left leg. I almost lost my life. When the accident occurred I was sleeping in the truck. I was unconscious for 12 hours. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in hospital. Since then, my leg has been weak.
Inner Sanctum: Did you ever dream you would become a Muay Thai fighter?
No! I did not! During my childhood, I never thought I would become a kick boxer or kungfu master. At that time my hobby was football and music, and I dreamt of becoming a physics teacher to earn a better living.
My family’s poverty stopped me from pursuing music. The only choice for me was football. As a girl I always played football with other kids in the neighbourhood.
In 2009 I joined the HCM City University of Pedagogy despite protests from my parents, relatives, and friends due to my poor health condition.
Inner Sanctum: How did you become a Muay Thai fighter instead of a physics teacher?
When I went to HCM City to sit the university entrance examination, I met Trần Thị Mỹ Nga, a local, who sat the examination for the same subject at the same university. Nga, who was married and had a two-year-old child, took me home. Later I came to know that her husband Đào Văn Thăng was a master of traditional martial arts.
After the exam I returned home to Đắk Lắk. She informed me on the phone that I had passed the exam, and later we were in the same class at the university. Knowing about my family’s difficult situation, she promised to help me.
Nga’s house was a hostel where five seventh and eighth graders lived and learnt martial arts from her husband. I lived there with them and began training in martial arts. I was not serious about the martial arts at that time. Since I had to spend most of my time on part-time jobs because my parents could not support me, I had to quit.
I resumed training at the end of 2011. Later Thăng introduced me to coach Cao Văn Tài, who still teaches me Muay Thai. I began to prefer Muay Thai to traditional martial arts, and trained hard. After getting a gold medal in a city competition, I was selected to the HCM City team.
I did not think I would become a professional Muay Thai fighter and take part in international competitions at the time due to my weak leg. My leg is not healthy like other people’s.
Inner Sanctum: How did you overcome the challenge?
For two years after the accident I could only move my leg slightly like a disabled person. I like sport and so I could not give it up though sometimes I felt discouraged with my poor heath condition and wanted to give up everything. I felt very uncomfortable sitting in one place and seeing others playing outside. My leg was still hurting when I took the entrance examination.
I had to train very hard to recoup my health. I always trained harder than my friends. I did additional training at home to physically prepare for the exam. I prepared for 15 days. In university, my leg was still hurting.
Inner Sanctum: How did you survive in HCM City and become a renowned Muay Thai fighter when you didn’t have money?
Without money in pocket, I was taken in by Nga and Thăng’s family. They told me not to worry about payment for the accommodation and meals. Whenever I got some money, I gave them.
I had to do part-time jobs when I had free time to earn money. They helped me a great deal, even introducing me to part-time jobs. I and other students did several jobs like delivering fliers, washing dishes, masonry and working as clowns. Poverty forced me to do various odd jobs as long as they were legal.
My daily routine was hectic when I was in university. I had to get up at 4am to sell soya milk at Lương Định Của Primary School in District 2. I would go to school at 8am and then, starting in the afternoon, practise Muay Thai for the rest of the day.
Inner Sanctum: How did your recent competition in Sweden go?
At the international competition, I won a bronze medal. The weather was cold there. I was not used to the weather conditions. European competitors are very strong. They are tall. I realised I needed to invest much more effort if I wanted to improve.
To achieve what I have today, in addition to my own efforts I have been lucky to meet several good people who supported me a great deal: Nga, Thăng, coaches Tài and Giáp Trung Thang, the trainer of the national Muay Thai team who creates ideal conditions for me to train and take part in international competitions.
Now I am preparing for the national championships in Thanh Hóa in July and Asian Beach Games in September in Đà Nẵng.
Inner Sanctum: What are your achievements at Muay Thai ?
My first achievement was the gold medal in the HCM City Đồng hành Muay Thai, which helped me become a member of the city Muay Thai team. I won a bronze in the 2011 national competition. I won the silver medal the next year.
In July 2012 I won a gold in an Asian tournament. In December 2012 I won a gold in a tournament for Southeast Asian students. In 2013 I won a world gold medal and semi-professional belt in an amateur competition. In 2014 I won silver medals in an international event and the Asian Beach Games. Last year I won an international event and a semi-professional competition for amateurs.
Inner Sanctum: What is your career goal now?
My target is to achieve victory over myself. When training, my injury sometimes flares up and I feel like giving everything up. But the next morning I change my mind to resume my efforts to do better for myself and my family. VNS