I may have been the last to have taken a glimpse into the eyes of an iconic Hmong megastar. I started the tête-à-tête with Yia “The Bull” Mua to only discover, in my dismay, the ominous condition that has overwhelmed him for the last several months. Though in his state of condition, he was much obliged in starting a dialogue with me, and excited that we may reach our goal in getting through with the interview. However, I was never able to complete the full interview, although he completed the initial queries, afterward, I was never able to get a hold of him to complete the full questionnaire. It wasn’t until a few months later—something that I most feared—hearing of his death on the Fresno Hmong Radio stations and confirming my doubts on a YouTube video from his widow and nephew.
Though I never knew him on a personal level, I am forever rendered speechless in saying that I have had a chance to talk to Mr. Mua, in euphemism, before his passing. He was his humble self on every occasion. I know he will be plastered forever young! And he will be remembered forever young!
He had a fiery ambition to excel in everything that he puts his hands on. He aspired to be more than just a fighter, a thespian of the arts, an educator, a friend, a son, a brother, a husband, and a father; he’s inspired us all to follow our dream unorthodox to what our parents’ believes in—doctors and lawyers. He taught us to follow our hearts no matter the stakes so high, but to always press on and follow our dreams.
Here are the last of his words before I loss contact with him.
Jerry: You’ve been this iconic Hmong figure for so long now. You’re known simply as Yia Mua or the alias ostentatious “The Bull,” but what many people don’t know is your initial flight to stardom as a kickboxing champ, as well as many who are now familiar with you as an aspiring Hmong movie star. Give us a quick run down of what you’ve done in your lifetime, so we can inspire others to follow your footsteps.
Yia: I have been in half a dozen or so film since retiring as a fighter. I’ve been in lead roles in movies and commercials, and here are the films, commercial, and music:
Mob Saib Vim Hlub —— Lead Character —— Four Stars Entertainment
Kaub Nhuj —— Lead Character —— Bi-Vision Production
Hlub Ti Ntuj, Txuj Ti Txaj —— Lead Character —— TwinStars Entertainment
High Voltage —— Lead Character —— Voltage Production
Green Hornet (2000) —— Stunt-man —— Universal Studios
Daim Duab/The Picture —— Co-Lead Wiseguys —— Production
Finding Hope Now (2010) —— Asian Gang Enforcer —— Sony Pictures
I-Phone Pocket Ninja Villain Blare Media
3-2 Play Rapper Aero Dynamix
I gained popularity in my professional career as a Muaythai Kickboxer.
Professional Muaythai Kickboxing Champion
Ring Name: The Bull
Pro Record: 32 wins- 2 losses
Titles: 5X Muaythai Kickboxing Champion
World Extreme Cagefighting Halloween Fury 2 Super fight Aired on HDNET
World Extreme Cagefighting 9 (WEC) Super fight Aired on HDNET
ISKA Strikeforce Championship fight Aired on ESPN2
Escrima (Filipino Martial Arts) Brown Belt
Here are other educational accomplishments:
– A.S. graduate at Fresno City College
– B.S. E-Business at University of Phoenix
– MBA Technology Management
Jerry: Here, I want you to tell your life’s tales of growing up in an imperfect world of nicks and bruises, and what obstacles you’ve overcome in life, and what further goals you’d like to accomplish?
Yia: As a kid, I was the only boy in the family. My parents didn’t really want me to do anything that would hurt me. I remembered this one time in 3rd grade I was beaten up by a kid in class. My parents’ close friend, Bob Smith, who studied Wing Tsung asked my parents if he could put me in a Kemscrimadoh (Filipino Martial Arts) class. Bob Smith offered to pay for it. I trained there for 4 years. After training there my family moved to Fresno, CA. I started back in martial arts studying Sanshou and Chinese kickboxing at John Cho’s Kung Fu School. I grew up in one of the worst time in our Hmong youth history. Gang violence and the peer pressure to join a gang were high. This was during the time of 1989-1995. Almost everyone I knew was in a gang, dead, and/or locked up. I kept myself busy playing sports at school and training kickboxing. I remember an incident. I had three friends who wanted to go and visit their girlfriends. The problem was no one had a car. They asked me to go with them but I declined. They stole a car and drove to see their girlfriends. The police tried to make a stop but they took off on a high speed chase. The car rolled over and 2 of the 3 friends died on the spot.
Some of the biggest obstacle I encounter was from people who didn’t believe that I could be someone. I’ve always told myself that I was going to make a change in our community and I think I did a little of that.
My future goals are to open a Muaythai Kickboxing Center called “The Bull Pen.” This place will be for people of all ages. Ages 4-8 will be called “Little Nak Muay”; from ages 9-14 years old will be called “Phaj Ej”’ and from 15-Adult will be called “Nak Muay”. My mission is to create awareness related to Health issues that Hmong people has, such as, gout, hypertension, Heart Disease, Diabetes, cancer, and other health related issues. Not only awareness for health, but also to provide a safe haven for Hmong youth teaching them discipline and determination by having monthly competitions. The gym will provide training for recreational students, amateur fighters, and professional level fighters.
Jerry: What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind–I’m not talking about the tangible stuff, but the things intangible to the touch that you’d like to be remembered by?
Yia: The biggest legacy that I want Hmong people to get out of this is that we can do it. It doesn’t matter the disadvantages we have, if we put our minds to it we can accomplish anything in life. Know that we will face obstacles in the roads ahead and it will be rough, but we can overcome it.
Here’s a quote that I would like to share:
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.
–- Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich” –-
You will be missed! Should you have any question(s) in relations to this article please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
R.I.P Yia “The Bull” Mua – From the Hmoodle Family.