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‘The Burmese Python’ comes home

Aung La Nsang, right, coaches students at the BJJM fitness center in Rangoon. (Photo: Tammy Willis)

Myitkyina-born mixed-martial artist Aung La Nsang will go toe-to-toe with Egyptian fighter Mohamed Ali tonight in Thuwana stadium in Rangoon. While the young middle-weight has competed in bouts across Asia, tonight’s match-up will be his first in Burma.

The match will also be Aung La Nsang’s first in nearly 18 months, as issues with his visa have stopped the fighter from traveling to other events organized as part of the Singapore-based ONE Championship promotion across Asia.

Aung La Nsang left Kachin State as a small child and spent several years living in Rangoon before emigrating with his family to the United States. According the biography on his website,  he graduated from Andrews University in Michigan and spent several years working as a “migratory beekeeper” across the United States before moving to Maryland to train full time.

Today he lives in Elkridge, Maryland, and is member of the “Crazy 88” MMA club in Baltimore, where he trains and coaches.

In addition to last-minute training, the so-called “Burmese Python” also made time to visit schools and local fighters in the last several weeks. From 13-16 March, he worked as a guest couch at BJJM fitness club in Rangoon, the first and only Brazilian Jujitsu club in the nation.

“He’s a great coach, but he is an intense fighter. He knows how to use his weight and pressure,” said Tammy Willis, the coordinator of the club and an amateur MMA fighter. She went on to describe his signature “anaconda’ choke hold as like watching “a crocodile turning his prey.”

Willis, who has been volunteering her time to manage the club for the last two years, said she has noticed a slow but steady uptick in interest in MMA since arriving in Burma, and said she believed Aung La Nsang could serve a valuable role as an ambassador for MMA in the country.

“I think there’s no doubt that he can pull more people into the sport,” she said.