Mongkolpetch Petchyindee Academy is the latest Muay Thai World Champion to grace The Home Of Martial Arts with his thrilling striking ability.
After more than a decade in the sport, the former Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion will look to display his skills to the world as he amps up for his ONE Championship debut.
Come 19 January at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia, Mongkolpetch will feature in the co-main event against New Zealand’s Alexi “Phet” Serepisos in a ONE Super Series flyweight bout at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY.
Before reaching this pinnacle moment of his career, Mongkolpetch has faced many battles inside and outside of the ring.
He was born in Northeast Thailand, commonly referred to as Isaan – which contains the country’s most underdeveloped and impoverished regions. It also produces more Muay Thai competitors and subsequently more champions than any other area in Thailand.
Like many children there, Mongkolpetch was born into poverty. His parents were both rice farmers who relied solely on mother nature to irrigate their crops. As he grew up, every year was like a lottery.
“I’m a farmer’s son, life was always difficult,” he explains.
“We didn’t have any money, so I started fighting.”
Like many of Thailand’s Muay Thai stars, he was first introduced to the sport after watching his older brother compete. Together with him, his father, and uncle, the young boy began his athletic journey at the front of his wooden stilt house.
In preparation for his first competition at just 10 years old, he was bestowed with his ring name.
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“We trained in the dirt, just like that,” he says.
“My uncle was a former fighter who helped out and held pads for us. We didn’t have a ring, just an old bag.
“Mongkolpetch was actually my uncle’s name from when he was a fighter. He was the one who named me, and the name stuck throughout my career.”
Like many Muay Thai practitioners, Mongkolpetch got his start at a local temple fair.
His first taste of competition was all he needed to know he had found his passion, and he would dedicate his life to the sport.
It would also give him a way to help support his family financially, but he kept his first purse for himself.
“I was a little apprehensive at first, but once I got in the ring it was so exciting,” he says.
“I was beyond happy to get paid. I made 120 Baht (about USD$4) and spent it all playing games and buying snacks at the festival.”
After a few years at his family’s makeshift gym, Mongkolpetch moved his training to a more established facility in the provincial capital of Roi Et.
At Wor. Banyaawai, the benefits of training under the guidance of a better-equipped team quickly became obvious. It took just a short time with his new gym for Mongkolpetch to earn the chance to test himself against the best in the region.
He was scheduled to contest for the highly prestigious Isaan title, but he came up short and lost the match on points. The experience, however, ignited a new passion within to become a champion.
“It was frustrating to lose because I felt like I wasn’t fully prepared. I had to drive to the gym every day on my family’s motorcycle,” he says.
“It was a 20-mile round trip. Sometimes it would rain, and sometimes coming home at night it would be really cold.”
Despite his difficulties, Mongkolpetch competed successfully out of the gym for several years before he headed to the nation’s capital to test his skills against the best athletes Thailand had to offer.
First arriving at Kesa Gym in Nonthaburi, Northern Bangkok, Mongkolpetch encountered the hardest training of his life. It was here however that he realized his potential, as he was polished into a champion.
“Back at home I never really had a coach,” he says.
“I learned from watching the other fighters and fighting frequently. In Bangkok, the training is on a completely different level.”
Under the guidance from the trainers at Kesa, Mongkolpetch got on the fast track to becoming a Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion. He has also won the award for “Fight of the Year” at Channel 7 Stadium in 2017.
However, there was a time when he almost threw everything away before he achieved the recognition and success he enjoys today.
While other areas in his life had improved with his move to Bangkok, Mongkolpetch lacked the guidance and support of his family. Without them, he got distracted and nearly derailed his own career.
“I followed my friends out at night, got a girlfriend, and just stopped training,” he says.
“My gym kicked me out.
“I thought about being a child in Roi Et and how difficult it was for my parents. I knew I needed to make a change and focus on my future so I could better provide for my family.”
After regaining the focus, drive, work ethic, and dedication needed to make it on the elite Bangkok circuit, Mongkolpetch was recruited by powerhouse gym Petchyindee Academy – home to other ONE superstars like Petchmorrakot, Petchdam, and Sorgraw – and he is regarded as one of his discipline’s top talents.
Now, he is ready to take his career to the next level on the global stage for martial arts.
“Getting to compete for ONE Championship is what every fighter dreams of. I am so grateful for the opportunity to showcase my skills on the world stage.”