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SEA4 Podcast: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > Adversity

SEA4 Podcast: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > Adversity

By Lao American Sports Hall of Fame

The SEA4 Podcast aims to bring the stories of refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and their American-born descendants into the mainstream. By focusing on athletes and other accomplished individuals who have overcome adversity we hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams. John Messina and Ko Chandetka from the Lao American Sports Hall of Fame will be interviewing athletes and others who represent the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia including Lao, Laotian, Khmu, Khmer, Hmong, Vietnamese, Lu Mien, Cham, and others.
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Lao American Pro Wrestling Round Table: Peter Chanthapone (Jordan Jaa), Sean Bouasenesouk (Sean Lao), Sengphet Sengphachanh (El Saiko Gato)

SEA4 Podcast: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > AdversityFeb 20, 2023

00:00
01:18:34
Brandon Thammavong: Lifestyle and Confidence Coach

Brandon Thammavong: Lifestyle and Confidence Coach

The toughest moments in our lives can either break us, or make us. Brandon Thammavong was headed down a path of self-destruction, when in a defining moment he decided to make a change. Pouring everything into his mental and physical self, while harnessing his entrepreneurial spirt, Brandon, would conquer his past and forge a path into the future. He’s dabbled in bodybuilding and physical training but his greatest passion comes from helping others find their purpose through his platform, North Star Zenergy. Brandon Thammavong is a lifestyle and confidence coach. Originally from Westminster, CO he currently resides in Las Vegas.

https://www.instagram.com/northstarzenergy/

https://www.northstarzenergy.com/

Music: Summer of 1984 by RKVC

Photo Credit: Summer Tiwari


Sep 05, 202339:45
Rasi Chau: Football Coach

Rasi Chau: Football Coach

In life we make choices. Shortly after Rasi Chau landed in America, he strapped on a football helmet and put the war and devastation that had defined his early childhood behind him. Rasi would go on to play in high school, college and the ranks of the semi-pros before taking to the field as a coach and official. From Pewee to the Pros, Rasi has been sharing his knowledge, triumphs and struggles with the next generation of athletes for over 20 years. His story not only embodies the American spirit but also serves as a reminder that our past does not define us; but rather our choices and our perseverance is what truly shape our destiny. is a Khmer-America football coach from Lynn, MA.


https://www.instagram.com/coachrasi/


Music: Summer 1984 by RKVC

Aug 28, 202350:51
Sovannahry Em: One Championship MMA Fighter

Sovannahry Em: One Championship MMA Fighter

How does a shy child from Long Beach end up fighting on Asian’s biggest MMA stage? After high school, Sovannarhry Em began training in boxing and martial arts. Initially focused on fun and fitness she quickly caught the eye of professional promoters. After winning her first few pro fights in dramatic fashion, Sovannahry boarded a plane for Malaysia and entered the cage as One Championship athlete. Sovannahry is currently taking a break from her MMA career but hopes to one day represent her Khmer heritage on the international stage as a member of team Cambodia.


https://www.instagram.com/nahryem/

https://www.facebook.com/NahryEm

Music: Summer 1986 by RKVC

Aug 21, 202336:37
Amatha Ratsombath: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Laos

Amatha Ratsombath: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Laos

Amatha Ratsombath was lost in life, floundering somewhere between the French ideals of Liberty, equality and fraternity and the urban ghettos of Paris filled with disenfranchised immigrant youth.  He would find a path in life through martial arts and after relocating to his ancestral homeland of Laos discover his inner self.  Amatha recently led the Lao national Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team to its first international competition at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia and is now preparing for a history making appearance at the 2023 Asian Games. His mission, to elevate the profile of Lao martial arts on the international stage. 


https://www.instagram.com/bjjlaos/

https://www.facebook.com/BJJ.Laos


Music: Summer of 1985 by RKVC


Photo Credits

Paris: By Yann Caradec from Paris, France - La Tour Eiffel vue de la Tour Saint-Jacques, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34933538


Riot 1: By Toufik-de-Planoise - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=133832831


 


Jul 17, 202301:22:26
Athlete Mental Health: Stories from Lao American Athletes

Athlete Mental Health: Stories from Lao American Athletes

Behind the triumphs and glory that grace the sporting arenas, there lies a lesser-known battle fought within the hearts and minds of these extraordinary individuals. Athlete Mental health, a topic often shrouded in silence but that holds immense importance. Behind every gold medal lies, trauma, self-doubt, fear and pain. From the darkest lows to our proudest moments, we'll discover the unbreakable spirit that resides within every athlete, reminding ourselves that mental health is not a barrier but a catalyst for extraordinary achievements. Guests include: David Boutsomsy, Peter Chanthaphone, and Malay Bouaphakeo.

Warning: In this episode we discuss difficult subjects related to mental health including addiction and suicide.

Music: Summer of 1984 by RKVC

Jul 05, 202301:06:34
AJ Vongphachanh: Utah State and BYU Football Star

AJ Vongphachanh: Utah State and BYU Football Star

To most people the 2021 Jimmy Kimmel L.A. Bowl was just another football game but to the Lao American community in was a moment of great pride as two Lao last names battled it out. AJ Vongphachanh rose from the youth football fields of western Washington to playing in a sold-out SoFi stadium on national television.  Behind his rise, a strong work ethic, an NFL dream and most importantly a supportive family. After an incredible four years at Utah State AJ has decided to finish out his college eligibility by helping BYU make the transition into one of college football’s top conferences, the Big 12. 


Music: Summer 1984 by RKVC


https://www.laoamericansports.com/aj-vongphachanh

https://www.instagram.com/ajvong_/

https://twitter.com/aj_v25

Jun 15, 202332:00
Leth Oun: Cambodian American Secrete Service Agent

Leth Oun: Cambodian American Secrete Service Agent

Neil Diamond said, have you ever heard a story about a frog who dreamed of becoming a king, and then became one? Well except for the names and a few other changes if you’re talking about Leth Oun the story is the same one. Leth was a virtual slave under the Khmer Rouge but now protects the leader of the free world. After escaping the killing fields, transitioning through refugee camps and adapting to life in America, Leth joined the secret service. A pivotal moment in his life and career came when in 2012 he escorted President Barack Obama to the land of his birth, Cambodia. Leth chronicles his life’s journey is his new book, A Refugee’s American Dream. https://www.facebook.com/LethOunBook Music: Summer of 1984 by RKVC Photos Credits:

From Leth Oun

Ankor Wat By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3991230 Genocide By I, Inisheer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2529242 Obama: By East Asia and Pacific Media Hub U.S. Department of State - President Obama at ASEAN-U.S. Leaders' Meeting, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31966463

May 30, 202342:49
Boomer Savanh: Laos Born U.S. Navy Veteran, Mountain Climber and Runner

Boomer Savanh: Laos Born U.S. Navy Veteran, Mountain Climber and Runner

How does a child go from a poor farming village in Laos to the top of a mountain? Opportunity, its what the American dream is ultimately all about.  After transiting through a refugee camp, Boomer Savanh, came to America as a child and went on to have a successful 27-year career in the U.S. Navy and is raising a family. As an athlete, he’s climbed to the top of some of the world’s most majestic mountains, endured 100-mile trail runs and competed in Marathons across the country.  If there is any opportunity that Boomer is taking advantage of here in America, its living life to its fullest. 

Music: Summer 1984 by RKVC

May 08, 202301:10:25
Kenya Prach: Kun Khmer / Bokator fighter, Cambodian Genocide survivor, author of Black stone Hands
Apr 24, 202359:59
Rugby Edition: Jerry Sysourath and Tino Paophavihanh
Apr 17, 202352:07
John Nammychai: Lao-Khmu Army Airborne Soldier and Semi Pro Football Player
Apr 02, 202301:11:13
Malay Bouaphakeo: Softball, Roller Derby and Life Coach

Malay Bouaphakeo: Softball, Roller Derby and Life Coach

Passion, its what drove Malay Boauphakeo from her humble begging in Storm Lake Iowa, to the softball diamond at Drake University. After graduating and entering the workforce her passion for competitive sports would lead her to found and compete on a roller derby team, the Des Monies Dames. Malay’s greatest passion in life might just be instilling it in others through her work as a life coach, IT recruiter and with her newly earned master’s degree in mental health counseling.

https://www.instagram.com/thefullpursuitcoach/

Mucis: Summer of 1984 by RKVC


Mar 20, 202340:50
Tron Siphaxay: Lao American Navy Seal

Tron Siphaxay: Lao American Navy Seal

Why attempt something if most people fail?  Why put yourself in danger when you can be at home safe?  Soukhanthone Siphaxay, known to most as Tron,  was in boot camp during the September 11th, 2001 attack on America and would soon find himself on the front lines of the war on terror as part of an elite force, the Navy Seals. Tron enlisted in the Navy with the purpose of serving his country and was deployed to hot spots around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, and the southern Philippines.  The Laos born refugee has been fighting his whole life but one of his toughest battles would come at the end of his career as he tried to adapt back to life as a civilian.  

Music: Summer 1984 by RKVC

Mar 06, 202355:28
Lao American Pro Wrestling Round Table: Peter Chanthapone (Jordan Jaa), Sean Bouasenesouk (Sean Lao), Sengphet Sengphachanh (El Saiko Gato)
Feb 20, 202301:18:34
James Vang: Hmong American Powerlifting Champion

James Vang: Hmong American Powerlifting Champion

The road to greatness can be a lonely one and no one knows this better than champion powerlifter, James Vang. It was during a tough time in life that James made a choice, ignore the naysayers, don’t let others define you and go all in. As a member of Team USA, a nine-time national champion, and Arnold Classic title holder, James Vang has powered his way to the top of the sport. It's not all about titles and breaking records for James he enjoys giving back as a coach, advocating for health and wellness, and bringing pride to the Hmong community.

https://www.instagram.com/hmongpowerlifter/?hl=en

Music: Summer of 1984-RKVC

Feb 06, 202359:18
Krysada Panusith Phounsiri: Part 2 Language & Art

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri: Part 2 Language & Art

This is part two of our interview with Lao-American dancer, poet, and scientist, Krysada Panusith Phounsiri. In the last episode, he took us on a journey, from break dancing on the streets of San Deigo to national tv and the Las Vegas stage.  Krysada is also a poet and tells of his experiences and the stories of his community through writing.  We start off part two of this inspiring interview with a recital of Krysada’s poem, Sa bai Sa bai.    

Sa bai Sa bai Poem: https://youtu.be/aRVHwqABLZE 

https://www.instagram.com/krysada_binly/?hl=en

Music: Summer 1984-RKVC

Jan 30, 202332:29
Krysada Panusith Phounsiri: Lao-American Break-dancer, Poet and Physicist -Part 1

Krysada Panusith Phounsiri: Lao-American Break-dancer, Poet and Physicist -Part 1

Part 1 of a two-part interview. What lies at the intersection of science, art, language, and athleticism? At the confluence of Lao and American culture? Krysada Panusith Phounsiri, or Binly, as he is known is an accomplished break dancer, award-winning poet, artist, and physicist. From his early days in Laos to the Las Vegas stage, Binly is writing his story with every dance move, photograph, and engineering breakthrough.  It's a story, being retold through poetry, preserved for future generations as art, and most importantly, inspiring a new generation to do the same.

Music: Summer of 1984 by RKVC

www.instagram.com/krysada_binly/?hl=en

www.laoamericansports.com


Jan 23, 202301:00:23
Arick Souvanna: Precision Rifle Competitor

Arick Souvanna: Precision Rifle Competitor

Sometimes, in life people shoot for their dreams, literally. Arick Souvanna grew up in Saginaw Texas, a town known for hosting one of the largest Lao New Year celebrations in America. Arick is putting this tight-knit community on the map again, this time for Precision Rifle Shooting. From building his own ammunition to traveling the country for competition, Arick is taking a shot at a dream. After competing for four years, he has won regional matches, placed as high as 6th in national events, and earned pro status in the Precision Rifle Series. In this episode, Arick will take us on a journey through the world of precision shooting, tell us about his hunting adventures and give us a taste of his food truck, The Saucy Hibachi.

www.instagram.com/arick_souvanna/?hl=en

www.facebook.com/TheSaucyHibachi

www.laoamericansports.com

Music: Summer 1984-RKVC

Jan 15, 202343:02
Royal Tiger Academy: Kenji Saykosy and Diandra Sayasy
Jan 10, 202338:42
Jeremy Mirken: U.S.A. Sepak Takraw Head Coach
Jan 03, 202349:31
Phanath Nate Sengmany: Creator of the Hike and Hit Program

Phanath Nate Sengmany: Creator of the Hike and Hit Program

You may have heard the saying “find your why”.  It’s the why that has driven Nate Sengmany from his namesake, a refugee camp in Thailand, to doing the Nate Pose on top of some of California’s most scenic bluffs.  He came up during Sacramento’s turbulent 1990’s and after an encounter with the criminal justice system Nate made a choice in life by finding his why.  Nate’s why is to leave have a positive impact on, individuals, his family, the Lao community, and beyond. His life has taken him on a journey of entrepreneurism, coaching, philanthropy, and even to inventing his own fitness program, Hike and Hit.  


https://www.instagram.com/nateintheclouds/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/hikeandhit/?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/@nateintheclouds8043

https://www.natepose.com/

Nov 22, 202256:34
Walter Sarnoi Oupathana: WBC Title Holder and Laos National Team Boxer
Nov 08, 202227:35
The Lao Pickleball Guys: Noi Sourinthone & Matthew Nola
Oct 29, 202248:31
Jackie Sayasone: Lao American Cornhole Pro

Jackie Sayasone: Lao American Cornhole Pro

When one door closes another one opens. As refugees from Laos, Sy and Nang Sayasone were resettled in the Midwest where they quickly went to work, toiling in meat packing plants in an effort to give their children a better life. Jackie would take advantage of that opportunity and go on to be a college athlete but just as Jackie’s college soccer career was taking off, she was diagnosed with a blood disorder that abruptly ended her dream and sent her into depression. Jackie would battle back by finding ways to support the team from the sidelines and a few years later would stumble onto a new sport, cornhole. After five months of training and competing in various tournaments Jackie signed her first pro contract and realized her dream of becoming a pro athlete. Jackie now travels the country competing in tournaments in front of fans on ESPN and NBC but hasn’t forgotten where she came from. She enjoys giving back to less fortunate people and animals of Laos and is currently building a shelter for stray dogs and cats in her ancestral homeland.


https://www.instagram.com/j_say3/?hl=en

Oct 21, 202237:07
Ohn Phommavong Scoggins: Lao Disc Golf Pro
Oct 08, 202234:11
Ben Nguyen: Vietnamese American MMA Fighter

Ben Nguyen: Vietnamese American MMA Fighter

They may say that “nice guys finish last” but Ben Nguyen proves that sometimes it’s the good guy who comes out on top.  After the war in Vietnam Ben’s family settled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they rebuilt their lives from scratch as refugees. Ben was bullied as a child so his mother signed him up for taekwondo.  From his early days practicing in a church basement to stepping into the UFC cage, Ben has been fighting his way through adversity.  In 2014 a video of Ben knocking out an opponent in 25 seconds who had tried to bully him at a prefight press conference went viral.  Ben now trains alongside his wife, Australian fighter April Adams, and proudly represents his Vietnamese heritage in the sport that he loves.  

https://www.instagram.com/ben10mma/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/Ben10MMA

Sep 27, 202257:58
David Phrathep: Lao American baseball player and medical student

David Phrathep: Lao American baseball player and medical student

Arnold Schwarzenegger's six rules for success are, trust yourself, break some rules, don’t be afraid to fail, work like hell and give something back. The first time David Phrathep stepped onto the baseball field he was the underdog. From being told that he wasn’t cut out for little league to taking a shot as a college walk-on, David used that negative energy as fuel and became the first know Lao-American to play at the NCAA Division 1 level. Behind his success was a supportive family that did everything they could to help their son stay on a successful path all while learning to navigate through life in a new country and culture.  David’s baseball career is behind him and he now looks forward to giving back to his Lao community as a medical doctor.  

Video footage/photos courtesy of the University of Central Florida Athletics Department

https://www.laoamericansports.com/david-davy-phrathep

https://www.instagram.com/dphrathep/?hl=en

Sep 08, 202253:26
Christa Camvongcau Atwood: Lao-American Airline pilot

Christa Camvongcau Atwood: Lao-American Airline pilot

When it comes to chasing your dream, they say, “it’s not the destination but the journey”.  Pilot Christa Camvongcau Atwood is on the journey of a lifetime, chasing her dream from destination to destination through the skies. From her humble beginnings as a refugee to taking the controls of an A320 Christa is breaking down barriers in a male-dominated industry. Her story shows us that when it comes to dreams, not even the sky is the limit. She now dreams of passing her passion on to the next generation.  

Aug 24, 202256:16
Linda Sayavongchanh: Basketball Player & NCAA D1 Coach

Linda Sayavongchanh: Basketball Player & NCAA D1 Coach

Linda Sayavongchanh was introduced to basketball in elementary school, a sport that was foreign to her parents who had recently resettled in America as refugees from Laos. At Des Moines-Lincoln High School she would score a staggering 1,630 points, be crowned Miss Iowa Basketball and was named Gatorade player of the year before signing with Drake University.  After an amazing college career with the Drake Bulldogs she would continue pursuing her passion, this time through coaching. Linda recently wrapped up an accomplished coaching tenure with Creighton University and is currently an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with Indiana University. Identified by the Des Moines Register as one Iowa’s top 50 female basketball players of all time Linda is a member of the Lincoln High School Hall of Fame, the Iowa Girls High School Hall of Fame and of course, the Lao American Sports Hall of Fame. 

https://www.laoamericansports.com/linda-sayavongchanh

Music: Summer 1984-RKVC


Aug 15, 202243:08
Nara Sihavong: Wrestler, coach, entrepreneur & philanthropist.
Jul 23, 202259:04
Maria Balang: 1st Lao-Lahu IFBB Bikini Pro

Maria Balang: 1st Lao-Lahu IFBB Bikini Pro

Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “in our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.  That’s exactly what Maria Balang did.  Maria started working out to get in shape but soon found herself on the stage competing against women half her age.  This mother of four would go on to capture one of bodybuilding top honors, earning her IFBB pro card in the ultra-completive bikini division.  Maria’s accomplishments are not just a source of pride for her family but for her people, the Lahu. The Lahu are an ethnic group that lives in southern China and the golden triangle area of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar.  Maria was among a small group of Lahu from Laos who settled in America as refugees after the secret war and shows us that the only limits are those in our minds.  

Music: Summer 1984 -RTKV

www.laoamericansports.com

https://www.facebook.com/Maria-Balang-1st-Lahu-Female-IFBB-Bikini-PRO-CompetitorFitness-Athlete-243299929379701

https://www.instagram.com/officialmariabalang/?hl=en

Jul 10, 202245:22
Davy Phrathep: Baseball player and clinical psychology doctoral candidate on athlete performance.

Davy Phrathep: Baseball player and clinical psychology doctoral candidate on athlete performance.

Davy Phrathep and his brother David took up baseball during their childhood in Florida. The brothers, whose parents were refugees from Laos, would go on to be the first known Lao Americans to compete at the NCAA Division I level. While Davy may have hung up his glove after graduating from Florida International University, he would merge his athletic experience with his academic pursuits and delve into the world of sports psychology. While pursuing a PHD in clinical psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Davy is working with The Optimum Performance Program, an applied research, and training program focused on the development, evaluation, and training of performance optimization programs for athletes. In this powerful episode, Davy will take us into the world of sports psychology and help Ko Chandetka unpack some of the struggles that he faced as a professional bodybuilder.
Jun 23, 202258:21
Lo Phong La Kiatoukaysy, aka Lil' Buddah: Hmong American through hiker

Lo Phong La Kiatoukaysy, aka Lil' Buddah: Hmong American through hiker

After the secret war in Laos Lo Phong La Kiatoukaysy and his family fled their Hmong village in the mountains and were resettled on the great plains of America. The family adapted to life in Kansas but would try and reconnect with their highland roots by vacationing in the Rocky Mountains. Lo Phong eventually headed to New York City exploring American counter-culture, finishing college, and working his way up the corporate ladder. On September 11th, 2001 he narrowly escaped the attack on the World Trade Center that left nearly 3,000 people dead. Shortly after La Phong walked away from city life, literally, by hiking his way across America.  Having logged over 48,000 miles he’s seen some of America’s most beautiful scenery, faced danger and met interesting characters along the way but most importantly remembers that Hmong means free.

Music: Summer of 1984 -RKVC

https://www.instagram.com/lilbuddhahikes/?hl=en


Jun 04, 202255:24
Justin Phongsavanh: Lao-American Paralympic Athlete

Justin Phongsavanh: Lao-American Paralympic Athlete

Justin Phongsavanh was only two years old when he entered the Iowa foster care system after his biological parents were incarcerated.  He was raised by his adoptive mother in Ankeny, Iowa, and excelled at a variety of sports until at the age of 18 his life changed forever.  Justin was shot in a Mcdonald's parking lot after an encounter with a mentally disturbed military veteran.  The attack left Justin paralyzed and feeling hopeless until he was introduced to the world of adaptive sports.  Leading up to the 2020 Olympics Justin would break the F54 class world record in javelin before bringing home a bronze medal from Tokyo.  Justin continues his pursuit of excellence by competing in sports and giving back by helping other adaptive athletes achieve their potential. 

https://www.laoamericansports.com/justin-phongsavanh

https://www.facebook.com/JPhongsavanh

https://www.instagram.com/paralympicthrower/?hl=en


Jun 02, 202248:40
Jennifer Chanthavong: Lao-American Muay Thai Fighter
May 25, 202226:14
Channing Cash: Team USA Para-rower from Laos

Channing Cash: Team USA Para-rower from Laos

Channing Cash was born in a small village in Laos where at three years old she was attacked by a bull that had escaped from its pasture.   The attack left Channing unable to walk and was the catalyst behind her parent’s immigration to America as they sought better medical care and quality of life for their daughter.  Upon graduation from high school in Rockford, Illinois, Channing built a career as a mortgage professional and became known as the go to person for achieving the American dream of home ownership among Rockford’s large Lao community.  One day, Channing hit the reset button on her life and walked away from the corporate world. She relocated to Southern California to enjoy the outdoors and pursue her newly found passion for water sports.  As a member of the United States Para-Rowing team she took a shot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Channing is living her life to the fullest and advocates for accessibility in national parks and the great outdoors for those with disabilities. 

May 18, 202236:37
Sam Leam: 1989 Stockton schoolyard massacre survivor

Sam Leam: 1989 Stockton schoolyard massacre survivor

On January 17, 1989, a man walked onto the campus of Cleveland elementary school in Stockton California and unleashed a rain of terror that would leave five children dead and more than 30 others wounded.  The mentally disturbed perpetrator, Patrick Purdy, spent his childhood in and out of the foster care system and had a long criminal record and history of drug use and mental illness.  Most of the students at Cleveland elementary were refugees that had sought safety in America after fleeing the Khmer Rouge or escaping the aftermath of the wars in Laos and Vietnam.  Sam Leam was one such student and despite being shot three times he survived the attack. Sam will take us back to that tragic day and talk about how it impacted his life and the lives of others.  Sam is now focused on his passion for pets and is the proprietor of Sam & Sons Serpents and Bullies.  

https://www.instagram.com/sssbullies/?hl=en 

Music: Summer 1984 -RKVC

Apr 20, 202250:23
Andre Soukhamthath: Lao MMA fighter
Apr 14, 202245:22
Bobby Syvanthong: Lao / Khmu basketball player
Apr 07, 202229:57
Vanna In: Executive director of Hope Now for youth

Vanna In: Executive director of Hope Now for youth

In 1975 the Khmer Rouge launched a rain of terror that would result in the death and displacement of millions of people. Vanna In and his family would escape the killing fields only to face a new war on, this time on the streets of America. Caught between the emotional scars that the genocide left on his family and the gang violence of the 1990’s Vanna would head down a dark path as a teenager and into the criminal justice system after being convicted of second-degree murder. This episode isn’t intended to be about gang violence, its about hope and redemption. Vanna has dedicated his life to helping others find their place in this world and in 2018 was granted an unconditional pardon. Vanna is currently the executive director of Hope Now for Youth.
Music: Summer 1984 -RKVC
Mar 24, 202253:40
David Boutsomsy: Lao-American powerlifter
Mar 16, 202201:07:53
Cody Chhun: Khmer-American pro wrestler
Mar 01, 202245:31
Toom Chanda: Lao / Hmong stunt man and actor
Feb 22, 202236:14
Lo Van Pham: NFL football official born in Pakse, Laos
Feb 15, 202201:02:36
Billy Soksoda: Rodeo cowboy originally from Laos
Feb 09, 202257:36
K.P. and Scott Phaydavong; First Lao pro football player
Feb 04, 202201:50:04
Kris Dim: Cambodian bodybuilder. Khmer Rouge survivor.

Kris Dim: Cambodian bodybuilder. Khmer Rouge survivor.

Kris Dim was born in Cambodia in 1973, shortly before the Khmer Rouge upended life in that country. Between 1975 and 1979 it's estimated that up to 3 million people died in what became known as the Cambodian Genocide. After fleeing the country with his family and resettling in the United States, Kris took up bodybuilding as a teenager in Sacramento, California. In 2003 he earned his IFBB pro card by winning the NPC Nationals light-heavyweight championship. In 2007 Kris suffered a heart condition that nearly took his life about a month after his 34th birthday. Kris would continue to battle health issues and against the advice of many, he continued competing in the sport that he loves. After suffering a spinal cord inquiry Kris transitioned to the wheelchair division. Through all his struggles Kris maintains a positive outlook on life and his amazing story needs to be heard.
Music: Summer 1984 -RKVC
Jan 31, 202257:30
Ko Chandetka & John Messina, SEA4: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > Adversity.

Ko Chandetka & John Messina, SEA4: Southeast Asian Athlete Achievement > Adversity.

In the aftermath of the Vietnam war, the secret war in Laos, and the Cambodian genocide a wave of Southeast Asian refugees fled their homelands. They began arriving in the United States during 1975 and continued into the 1980s. While the first group was evacuated by the U.S. military most partook in a harrowing escape and transitioned through refugee camps in other Asian countries such as Thailand, Hong Kong, or the Philippines before being connected with a sponsor for resettlement. This diverse group of refugees was scattered across all fifty states. From large coastal cities to small Midwestern towns, everyone had a different resettlement experience. Upon arrival, some were welcomed by helpful sponsors while others were left to fend for themselves in some of America’s toughest neighborhoods. Facing language barriers, culture shock, xenophobia, and haunting memories from their past many struggled to adapt and survive. Cultural and generational struggles between adults and their more Americanized children were common.
Despite these challenges, many went on to achieve great things and over time became ingrained in the fabric of their communities. The unique stories and experiences of the Southeast Asian refugees are often overshadowed by that of the larger Asian American community. This podcast aims to bring these amazing stories into the mainstream by focusing on athletes and other individuals who faced and overcame adversity. Triumphs and tragedies, join us for these inspiring stories.
Nov 24, 202102:17