The world of martial arts is packed with athletes with compelling stories from all different backgrounds. Many of the competitors with significant organizations like ONE Championship feature athletes who have come from unimaginable poverty and tragedy.
With that said, there may not be anyone in combat sports quite like Savannah Ehm.
The 27-year-old Cambodian-American from Long Beach, California has about as diverse of a background as you’ll ever find, and her parents and grandparents survived unspeakable violence. It appears that reality has helped to establish a sense of gratitude and hard work that has led to Ehm’s success in athletics.
Ehm is a promising mixed martial artist with a 3-0 record. She is currently signed with ONE Championship where it appears she has a bright future as a competitor. Her first base discipline is boxing, but Ehm has expanded into Muay Thai, kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Her many training sessions can be seen on all of her social media accounts. Whether it’s strength and conditioning or honing combat skills, it’s clear Ehm enjoys working on the many layers of her craft.
Ehm isn’t just undefeated so far, she’s stopped all three of her opponents by first-round KO. The striking skill is showing itself early, and thus far, no opponent has been able to test Ehm’s ground game. Most recently, Ehm defeated Iryna Kyselova via first-round TKO. Afterward, Ehm talked about her preparation and how it felt to compete on the significant ONE Championship stage.
“I felt very relaxed,” Ehm says. “We put so much work into this camp, and I was so prepared that there was no anxiety – just excitement. I was just having fun.”
Despite the dominant performance, Ehm knows she still has a lot to learn.
“It was a great learning experience,” she says. “There are a couple of things that I could’ve executed a little better, but that’s just part of the learning experience. But overall, I feel it was perfect. I’m pretty shy, and I don’t crave too much attention, but being out there in the lights and hearing the crowd, it made me feel very special.”
It’s easy to think that Ehm’s entire life is exclusive to perfecting her mixed martial arts ability, but that’s not true. Ehm finds balance in the arts as she is also a gifted artist.
One look at Ehm’s website and you’ll get a glimpse at some of her other gifts. With a strong love for anime, comics, and gaming, you can see a ton of those influences in the drawings and paintings she has posted.
“My all-time favorite is the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbits Series,” Ehm said.
“[What I love about them] is the combination of free adventure, the traveling through open land, and the magical aspect to it. There’s a lot of camaraderie between the characters [and] the hobbits live the simple lifestyle. It feels very peaceful.”
Drawing and painting aren’t the only exhibitions of art that Ehm has participated in. She also used to be in a heavy metal band. The guitar appears to be Ehm’s instrument of choice. She also recently posted a video playing some acoustic guitar for her fans on Instagram. She’s not a professional musician, but you definitely wouldn’t use the word amateur to describe her skill level.
“I haven’t done it [playing in a band] as much these days, but I was pretty good at it in high school,” she says. “I used to play in a band for a little bit [and] I was really into it at the time. Classical [music] was my favorite, but [later] I was in a metal band with my boyfriend at the time.”
Ehm is a joyful and energetic young woman, but she knows not everyone has had these good fortunes. In fact, her parents didn’t always have the freedom to be as a carefree.
Many in the United States may only be familiar with the Khmer Rouge because of the Academy Award-winning movie “The Killing Fields” starring the late Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor. The story of “The Killing Fields” is a very real, cruel, and tragic one. From 1975-1979, a savage political regime led by Pol Pot ignited a destructive reign that impacted the Cambodian and Vietnamese people.
The regime forced millions of people to slave on communal farms in the area’s countryside. It was called the Khmer Rouge, and it led to a period of horrible genocide. Many members of families died from execution, starvation, disease, and exhaustion.
In fact, over a million people were killed during Khmer Rouge, and leaders of the regime have been convicted of genocide. Ehm’s parents were among those impacted, but they survived. Ehm was predominantly raised by her mother. However, there is no question she is aware of how strong her parents were, and how fortunate she is to not have experienced those horrors.