Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi: “I Earned My Living By My Passion For Boxing”

Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi: Vietnam's First World Champion

Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi with her championship belt
Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi | Credit: Ảnh/Cocky Buffalo

The Remarkable Story of Vietnam’s Boxing Champion Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi

Boxing is full of men and women who have had to overcome difficult circumstances to achieve success. For Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi (5-0, 1 KO), her story is more unique than most. Growing up poverty-stricken on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, she was introduced to boxing at age 13 and instantly fell in love with the sport.

Due to the circumstances of living in a household of nine family members in one of the roughest parts of the city, the burden was heavy to provide for her family. During an interview with Asian outlet Tapei Times, Nhi opened up on what measures she had to take.

“I wanted to earn more money, so I tried to train hard. I had no time to go out and have fun. I was training almost every day of the week. I earned money selling lottery tickets in the street, serving noodles in restaurants, I did anything that could bring me money to help my family.”


The obstacles she faced were beyond financial. Vietnam is quite conservative when it comes to women’s rights. Nhi talked about how she dealt with being heckled, challenged, and constantly questioned about her pursuit of The Sweet Science.

“My neighbors used to constantly question my grandmother why she let me do boxing like boys. I had to try my best to show them that the path I had chosen was right for me. I earned my living by my passion for boxing. I was better than them.

I always tried my best and pushed my body to the limit since I was a little girl. I still think I am weaker as compared to the men, despite the fact that I have always had to show I am tough.”

Her determination and perseverance paid off in October 2021 when she defeated Etsuko Tada to capture the WBO minimumweight title. Tada has been a mainstay at 105 pounds for over a decade and is a three-time minimumweight champion. But Nhi used her jab and superior speed to outbox the far more experienced Tada and in the process, became the first professional world champion from Vietnam to win a world title.


In assessing her style, she’s a well-schooled, fundamentally sound boxer with speed, excellent footwork, and solid defense. Watching her on film, the diversity of her punches is impressive, equally focusing on the head and body. Based on her world title performance, Nhi looks to have staying power.

Nhi still regularly switches between pro bouts and amateur tournaments. At 25, she is the youngest of the reigning professional world champions at 105.

In terms of future possibilities, one potential fight down the road could be a unification battle with current WBA minimumweight champ Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada. Most pundits rank Estrada as the best at 105 and one of the top pound for pound female fighters in the sport. However, Nhi can certainly give “Super Bad” a test. One could envision Estrada’s promoter, Golden Boy, having an interest in such a contest either later this year or at some point in 2023.

Whatever is next for Nhi, she wants to be a shining light and set an example of what can be possible. Her story is out of the ordinary and she has the potential to be one of the best in the lower-weight divisions.

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By: Michael Wilson Jr.

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Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for