Growing up in the Netherlands, Dorian van der Mullen was exposed to martial arts from a young age. Starting with Judo and Kung Fu, he later moved on to kickboxing. He first visited Cambodia in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the country. After finishing his Master’s degree in Amsterdam two years ago, he decided to move to the Kingdom. While here, he became involved with Kingdom Fight Gym (KFG) in Siem Reap and started to dabble in Kun Khmer, Cambodia’s ancient combat sport. So far, van der Mullen is undefeated in four bouts with local fighters. Van der Mullen met with Khmer Times Deputy Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez T. Senase to talk about his background, decision to move to Cambodia, love for Kun Khmer and his desire to help promote Cambodian martial arts to the outside world.
KT: Please tell us about your background.
Dorian van der Mullen: I was born and raised in the Netherlands, where I started practicing sports at a young age. Initially Judo and Kung Fu but later other sports like football and tennis. I’ve always had a passion for stand-up martial arts, so when I was around 17 years old I decided to start practicing kickboxing. The Netherlands has a great kickboxing scene and is rich in world-class athletes, so it was a great place for me to learn the sport. I learned at my local gym in my hometown called Elite Gym. I started participating in competitions and did a total of four fights in heavyweight at -95kg. After a big loss, I decided to take a break from fighting as I had some medical issues and wanted to focus on my studies. The love and passion for the sport however was always there, so I never really stopped training.
KT: When and what are the reasons that you moved to Cambodia?
Dorian van der Mullen: I fell in love with the Kingdom and its people when I first visited around 4 years ago. Life here is so much more relaxed and it is a country full of potential and opportunities, which makes it a very exciting place to be. Shortly after I finished my Master’s degree in Amsterdam around 2 years ago I decided to move to Cambodia.
KT: What is your specialty in martial arts? Why did you also get into Kun Khmer?
Dorian van der Mullen: I would say my specialty in martial arts is the ability to move around and throw fast combinations, which I got from my background in kickboxing. When I first came to Cambodia, I looked for martial arts gyms to train and this is how I came into contact with Kun Khmer.
KT: How many Kun Khmer bouts you already fought? How would you describe your opponents?
Dorian van der Mullen: I fought a total of four Kun Khmer bouts, one in Siem Reap, one in Battambang, and two at Bayon TV in Phnom Penh. I won all four bouts, three by way of knock out and one by decision. My opponents were Sarak, Seav Sungmeng, Phon Phanna and Ung Phearak. I would describe my opponents as true warriors. They all had a real fighter’s heart and dangerous techniques.
KT: There are now more foreign fighters taking up Kun Khmer. What would be its effect on the promotion and development of Kun Khmer, not only in Cambodia but also in other parts of the world?
Dorian van der Mullen: I think this is just the beginning of a golden age for Kun Khmer, with the sport and its athletes becoming more well-known on the international stage. The fact that more foreign fighters are taking up Kun Khmer plays an important role in this I think. Furthermore, there is a lot of local talent which I believe – with the right guidance and promotion – has the potential to become among the best in the world.
KT: What are you doing during the COVID-19 crisis?
Dorian van der Mullen: I trained mostly at home alone and with friends.
KT: What are your future plans in Cambodia? What are you trying to achieve?
Dorian van der Mullen: I want to stay involved with Kun Khmer and play a part in promoting it, not just by further developing myself as a fighter and fighting some of the best, but also by other projects that I am currently working on together with the founders of Kingdom Fight Gym – the gym in Siem Reap where I train. All the projects we work on revolve around martial arts and the love and passion for Kun Khmer.