Photo depicting Cody Chhun in wrestling attire standing in the ring.

Homegrown South Seattleite Cody Chhun on a Journey Toward Pro Wrestling Immortality

by Elizabeth Turnbull

After five years of training and competitive wrestling, homegrown South Seattleite Cody Chhun, 24, will compete in one of his most significant wrestling matches yet right here at home. 

This Saturday, Feb. 11, Chhun will compete for the Ring Of Honor (ROH) World Championship at Seattle’s Washington Hall — challenging Jon Gresham, the current ROH Heavyweight World Champion. The match will take place as part of Defy Wrestling’s 5th Anniversary celebration. 

“As a professional wrestler, this is the kind of match you want to really test yourself and prove your worth,” Chhun told the Emerald in an interview. “I’ve been doing my best to hit the gym, eat properly, watch film, and see what I can do to maybe add to my advantage.”

Chhun pursued his dream of becoming a professional wrestler straight out of graduating from what was then Global Connections High School in SeaTac (now Tyee High School). Since starting out, Chhun has been training at the Buddy Wayne Academy in Everett. While some might not understand the draw to this particular sport, Chhun sees wrestling as a way to tell a story in an unconventional way.

“I think what makes wrestling attractive for me is just to be able to only have like five or 10 minutes to tell a good story,” Chhun said. “And to have people who’ve never seen wrestling before or never seen you and have them become a fan of either yourself or of wrestling in general.” 

Chhun credits the inclusive environment where he was raised with being able to embrace his own identity. “I went to a lot of schools that were really diverse,” Chhun said. “It was great to know at a really young age other people’s cultures and their backgrounds — where they come from.”

Chhun’s parents came to the U.S. after escaping the Cambodian genocide. While he has never been to Cambodia himself, wrestling has provided him with an unexpected way for him to connect and represent his family’s cultural roots.

In December 2020, Chhun wrestled in two All Elite Wrestling (AEW) matches which were later posted to YouTube. Shortly after, he started to see an excited response from viewers in Cambodia. “My socials [went wild] and then people were calling my dad to tell him about it from Cambodia,” he said.

Eventually, Chhun hopes to make it to the WWE. For now, he’s doing his best to prepare for Saturday’s match.

“It’s going to be a tough battle for me,” Chhun said. “But I’m ready for it.”

Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.

📸 Featured Image: Cody Chhun in action during a Defy Wrestling event. (Photo: West Smith)

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