A clip of six guys playing a majestic game of sepak takraw in a village outside Yangon has gone viral on Instagram, racking up more than two million views after being picked up by American comedian and radio host Joe Rogan.
The video was first posted by Dave Leduc, a Canadian mixed martial artist who himself referred to him as the “King of Lethwei”, in reference to the Burmese fighting style known for its use of headshots.
“In Myanmar, we use our head shots for two things: Lethwei and Chinlone. In fact, I think playing this game can make you a better fighter, it makes you more athletic and explosive, ”Leduc wrote in the caption of the clip, apparently confusing competitive Southeast Asian sport sepak takraw (known in Myanmar as paik kyaw chin) for the non-competitive game of chinlone, which uses the same type of ball. (The ball is also called a “chinlone,” or cane ball.)
Leduc’s video garnered thousands of views, ultimately catching the attention of Justin “The Big Pygmy” Wren, a memes enthusiast who heads an organization that seeks to end water crises in sub-Saharan Africa. Wren added the caption: “Crazy! These guys must be in the #worldcup or #mma #UFC #bellator CHAMPS! “
He credited Leduc for the video, which has been viewed over 60,000 more times on Wren’s feed since yesterday.
Hours later, MMA commentator and former Fear Factor host Joe Rogan posted the video, and it has since been viewed by more than half of his four million followers.
Rogan wrote, “Holy shit! These guys have crazy skills!
However, he attributed the video to Justin “The Big Pygmy” Wren, not the King of Lethwei.
Fortunately, Aung La Nsang, another MMA fighter and darling of Burmese sports, supported Leduc, writing in her comments under Rogan’s video:
In an Instagram story that has since vanished, Leduc asked his followers to bombard Rogan with requests to invite Leduc to his podcast for an interview on lethwei and Myanmar.
Leduc’s assistant said Coconut: “Dave said he was very surprised because for him it is so normal because he plays chinlone all the time, but he just realized that the Burmese culture, the lethwei and the chinlone are very fascinating for the whole world.
She added: “Today Unilad, Sportsbible, ESPN and Vice all sent us a message! It’s viral!