Muay Thai legend Nong-O Gaiyanghadao (255-54-1) is ready to bring his flawless striking skills to ONE Championship.
The 31-year-old Thai legend will make his promotional debut on Friday, 20 April. He is scheduled to clash with another decorated world champion in France’s Fabio Pinca (99-23-4) at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR, which broadcasts live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. The epic clash will be part of the much-heralded ONE Super Series, and will be contested under Muay Thai rules.
Gaiyanghadao, who represents Singapore’s Evolve MMA, has reached the pinnacle of Muay Thai, and plans to continue the next chapter of his storied career on the global stage for martial arts.
Before he takes to the ONE cage, however, get to know more about one of the greatest Muay Thai warriors of the modern era.
Growing Up In Thailand
Gaiyanghadao grew up in a small, quaint, northeastern Thai village in the countryside called Sakon Nakhon. He describes the town as “very quiet,” and with “lots of open spaces.”
Raised in extreme poverty, Gaiyanghadao’s parents were orchard farmers who also worked in construction in Bangkok after farming season. Life was incredibly difficult on a daily basis. The family had very little means to make a living, and simply earning just enough to put food on the table was a demanding task.
Before he even set foot in a ring, the Thai’s life revolved around finding a way to help his family. With his parents’ financial situation in dire straits, Gaiyanghadao made a discovery that would forever alter his life.
Discovering Muay Thai
When he was merely 9 years old, Gaiyanghadao made the decision to become a martial artist, and he did not have to look far for inspiration.
A neighbor of his was a promising Muay Thai practitioner, who competed in the nation’s biggest and most prestigious stadiums in Bangkok. The youngster would often witness his neighbor’s training sessions at home. He recalled looking on with amazement, captivated by his own imagination, as well as the rhythmic beat of kicks and punches landing on hard leather.
One day, his neighbor spotted Gaiyanghadao watching the training, and asked if he would like to try it out. He said yes. After training in Muay Thai for more than a month, Gaiyanghadao felt he was ready to step inside the ring, and test his skills as a professional. However, he struggled with telling his parents, because he knew it would be hard for them to accept his decision.
One night, when his parents were away in Bangkok, Gaiyanghadao competed in his first-ever Muay Thai bout. He won, and made 100 baht (USD$3.20), which he gave to his grandmother. The following evening, he had his second bout, and was victorious again.
Gaiyanghadao competed eight more times before his parents discovered his secret. Although they refused to watch their only son compete at first, they eventually gave in, and accepted his decision. To his surprise, his parents began to show their support.
A Lonely Life In Bangkok
Juggling his personal life with Muay Thai became increasingly arduous.
Gaiyanghadao had to attend school, which took up most of his afternoons, so he had to find time to train in the morning. By the time he made it to school, he was exhausted.
Luckily for Gaiyanghadao, the people around him – his teachers, school staff, and classmates – were supportive of his Muay Thai endeavors. The school gave him a special pass that would allow him to attend classes even if he was late. Also, he remembers a time when his friends huddled up in front of his seat in class, just so he could sleep.
At the age of 14, he pursued his dreams, and moved to Bangkok. As a village kid living in the big city, he was out of his element. He did not know anyone, nor did he know how to act, or speak, even. It was as if he was a foreigner in his own country.
Gaiyanghadao, however, focused 100 percent on his development as a martial artist. He spent months away from family, sacrificing his personal life, because he knew it would take nothing less to get to the highest level of the sport.
The Rise Of A Legend
At the age of 15, Gaiyanghadao had his first big match at the prestigious Rajadamnern Stadium. After years of hard work, the Muay Thai athlete had finally reached the big stage. All of the Thai superstars he looked up to were competing in the exact same ring.
Gaiyanghadao competed against Sipaenoi S. Sisompong, and won by decision. From then on, he crafted a legendary career. He amassed a stellar 255-54-1 record, and captured multiple awards and accolades along the way. Some of his many championships include Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadium world titles, the Thailand national title, and the “Fighter Of The Year” award.
More importantly, Gaiyanghadao was able to bring his family out of poverty with the money he would make through competition. He would also earn recognition and fame, not just in his native Thailand, but all over the world.
Now, as a participant in the ONE Super Series, he will compete in front of his biggest audience ever – 1.7 billion potential viewers across 136 countries.
Manila | 20 April | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onehonor18