Combat sports are brutal. That is part of the appeal to fans, the raw competitiveness. There is boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, and Bare Knuckle Boxing. None are as raw and brutal as Lethwei. Lethwei, for the layman, is a bare knuckle Muay Thai that allows head butts. Samuel Toscano is one of the brave few that have made the transition from Muay Thai to Lethwei.
So how does one get involved with lethwei? It’s not a popular sport and not one that someone young outside of Myanmar would aspire to compete in. For Samuel Toscano, it started at 15 with Kung Fu.
“I started training Shaolin Kung Fu when I was 15 years old,” says Toscano. “7 years later I moved to Muay Thai. In the beginning I was curious, I found a second family and for the first time in my life I trained really strong.”
Toscano went to to compete in Muay Thai and kickboxing in K-1 and Bellator. It was only recently he fought Lethwei.
“Most of my fighting are under Muay Thai rules, few under K-1 rules, and only one, my debut in WLC, under Lethwei rules.”
So where does the urge to headbut someone come from? Toscano says it was WLC’s marketing that got him, as well as the King of Lethwei, Dave Ledeuc, himself. Combine that with his search for more in life and you get a combination that is a Thai boxer moving over to Lethwei.
“Last summer I was searching new motivations. I wasn’t satisfied about my last fight in April and my attitute and approach weren’t right. I was searching maybe something of new, something that’s sure to force you to use all your heart during fight. Casually I watched some lethwei fights on the web. [I loved] the great marketing of WLC and of Dave Leduc too. [They’re making] lethwei to be known everywhere in the world! Gradually, everybody started talking about Lethwei!”
Samuel Toscano at WLC 11
Samuel Toscano fought to a close fight. He beat the home town fifhter, Saw Kaung Htet, by split decision. It was an incredibly close fight and a hard one to judge. Toscano was happy with his performance but knows he has room for improvement in such a new sport. He’s already sought out a Lethwei gym.
“I was really enthusiastic, so I started to search a professional gym in Myanmar, where learn and train Lethwei. I spent 2 months in Yangon Fight Club. I was very happy!” Toscano goes on about where he can improve, more output and a more complex approach. “I would work more with combos, not only single skills, or a max one-two punch.
Now Toscano has his eyes on one thing. “I fallen in love with that belt,” he says. And with a win over Htet, he might just get that opportunity soon.
While his eyes are on belt, nothing is scheduled yet. But Toscano is ready. “Nothing of scheduled yet. I’m training hard to be ready for every call.”
Be sure to follow Samuel Toscano on Instagram to stay posted on his Lethwei journey.