When ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao defends his title in the main event of ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT which takes place this Friday, 10 May against Hiroaki “Kaibutsukun” Suzuki, he will step into the Circle at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand fueled by overcoming the most difficult time of his career.
Nong-O has dedicated his entire life to the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’ and was rewarded handsomely for his efforts as he garnered multiple accolades in the sport. But it all crumbled and Nong-O felt completely down after a span of seven months when he lost six bouts in a row.
“It was a period in my life when everything just sort of fell apart,” he says.
“Training, my career, and even my family. Things just weren’t going well. I lost every single fight that year, and also lost confidence in myself. No matter how hard I trained, I just wasn’t 100 percent. I was tired in the fights. No matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t myself. I didn’t know why it was happening to me.”
Proving to possess the true values of a real martial artist, Nong-O picked himself up and went back to work. His arduous training and the support he received from his family slowly brought him back to form.
“It was just a period in my life I had to go through. I never thought of quitting or giving up,” he explains.
“I was building a house for my family during that time and relied on the money from fighting as our main source of income. I would go to make merit and get a blessing, and my parents really supported me during this time. They kept me focused, and kept me moving. Everything just started to come together. My family was there for me, and my body started to feel strong in training. Then I started winning again.”
True enough, he was back at his best and defeated some of the biggest names in the sport leading to more belts in the process.
“I stayed calm and just kept going forward. I was really proud of myself to get through this difficult period in my life.”
“Looking back, I was thinking too much. I felt pressure to make money to build a house, and support my family. All the thinking affected my performance, I think.”
His heroic rise to the top has established Nong-O as a Muay Thai legend racking up hundreds of wins prior to his initial retirement. Nong-O however could not stop himself answering the call of battle as ONE Championship invited him to be one of the first athletes to compete in the ONE Super Series. He has now resumed his career in ONE where he is 3-0 so far.
As champion, Nong-O hopes that his story continues to inspire young athletes, proving how perseverance and hard work can overcome the most difficult situations in life. He never gave up no matter how dire the situation seemed, and that’s something he is very proud of.
“I’m so glad I didn’t quit, or I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says.
“Some people go through this and just give up. I stayed strong and had the heart to keep fighting. I’m grateful I had the inner strength to persevere. I just never gave up, kept training and things eventually got better. I can’t wait to feel the crowd cheering for me, I’ll keep this World Title in Thailand.”