Bi Nguyen Discovered Her Fighting Spirit During Her Toughest Times
Bi Nguyen, of ONE Championship’s atomweight division had her fair share of struggles before finding success in martial arts. At the age of just seven years old, she emigrated from Vietnam to the United States along with her family. She had a job by the age of just ten. At the age of fifteen, she decided to move out of the family home. Speaking to The Bleacher Report‘s Tom Taylor about her decision to leave home at such a young age, Nguyen acknowledges that she felt she needed to find herself.
“I had a lot of misplaced anger. I just needed to leave, so I left—I thought—to find myself.
“I learned all of the lessons of life before I was 17. I learned how to drive by myself. I paid my bills by myself, got an apartment by myself, went to school by myself.”
However, things took quite a dark turn when she started a relationship when she was just sixteen. Although Nguyen was in love, the relationship turned abusive. Nguyen described the turn as a nightmarish ‘blur’.
“I was in love. He was everything I wanted at the time.
“He gained my trust, he gained my love; then, one day, he smacked me. I was really shocked, and I wanted to leave, but then I forgave him, and little by little, a smack became a hit, a hit became a kick, and it got really bad.”
At the time, Nguyen said it was incredibly hard to leave the relationship.
“There is no vision, there is no path to leave. This person has made your entire life about them. The only thing I knew was him, and the only thing he was telling me was, if I left, he’d kill me.”
Things took a drastic turn when Nguyen ended up in a serious car accident as a result of a car chase with her ex-boyfriend at the wheel. He did not pull over when the police signalled at him to do so. He was speeding and lost control of the car. When Nguyen was brought to hospital, medical staff saw older injuries that had been inflicted on her.
“The officers pulled me aside because they saw scars and bruises on me. They talked to me about it, and that was the first time I came out and reported all of the abuse.”
Nguyen’s bravery to report the abuse resulted in her ex-boyfriend being arrested and imprisoned. However, Nguyen’s problems did not go away and the end of the relationship left her feeling lost.
“When I gained my freedom, I was lost. It was really hard for me to pick myself up.
“When I finally did, I decided to take a self-defence class. It was a Muay Thai class, and the coaches saw something in me. They trained me for my first fight and I won with terrible technique and a lot of heart.”
Nguyen trained hard and progressed to MMA. She had found a love of martial arts and had an insatiable desire to compete. Her sights were set firmly on the UFC.
In 2018, she was invited to take part on reality television show, Survivor, in Fiji. In an unfortunate turn of events, on the same day the invitation for the show arrived, her father passed away.
“That same day that my dad passed away, I got a call asking me to be on Survivor. I was hesitant, but then I thought about it. My dad was this crazy dreamer. He would’ve said yes, so I said yes. I went to my dad’s funeral a week later, fought and won a week after that; then packed my bags and went to Fiji.”
She set off for Fiji and although the experience was difficult, Nguyen used the platform as an opportunity to share her story with others.
Nguyen had to drop out of the show prematurely due to a knee injury. However, it was then that she received an offer of a contract with ONE Championship. For Nguyen, it was the perfect option!
“The whole idea of the UFC—I’m glad it didn’t work out because ONE is perfect at this point. I’m taking all the fights. I’m saying yes to everyone—all the hardest fights, the ones that people don’t want. I’m performing my ass off, and I’m having a great time.”
Bi competed three times in the ONE Circle in 2019 and was scheduled to meet Itsuki Hirata this past weekend at ONE: Warrior’s Code but was unfortunately forced to pull out because of an injury.
Bi Nguyen has been using the fact that she has an ever thriving fan-base to share her story and help empower other women who find themselves in abusive or toxic relationships. Not only has she survived, she is now helping others to do the same.
“I think that a lot of people would have broken under a lot of things that I’ve been through. Now, I’m so confident and secure in myself in dealing with any situation. I feel so strong and unbreakable.
“For years I fought for the young me who felt powerless. Now, I’m fighting for others who may feel that way.”