Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex is one of the most beloved figures in the martial arts world for his incredible skill in the ring, and infectious personality outside of it.
Millions will watch in Asia and around the world when he competes in the main event of ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS. He will meet Luis “Soot Raaeng Geert” Regis in a ONE Super Series featherweight Muay Thai match-up.
However, a year ago, it seemed like his days of competing were all over.
“The Hero” shocked the world by suddenly announcing his retirement because of a series of debilitating injuries that compromised his ability to compete at the peak of his powers.
Muay Thai World Champion Yodsanklai has his sights set on his biggest prize yet Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, 29 November 2018
He was heartbroken to step away from the sport he loved and disappoint fans who had supported him throughout his journey.
However, he had been through so much pain for the previous couple of years, he felt like he had no choice.
Yodsanklai’s difficulties began at the end of 2015 when he had to withdraw from a bout because of problems with his knee.
Injuries are part and parcel of martial arts training at the highest level, but when “The Boxing Computer” went for an MRI scan, doctors found a serious issue.
“The knee injury was mainly a result from overtraining over a long period of time,” he says.
“It had been bothering me for some time. It was painful, but not unbearable.
“I was very shocked when the doctor told me I needed surgery. I’ll admit, I was a bit scared that I would never be able to fight again as a result of my injury.”
He went under the knife, and then had to start the long process of rehabilitation and recovery so he could walk again, let alone practice Muay Thai.
“[The hardest part of the rehab process was] just the inconvenience of daily chores like showering, sitting and standing, not being able to drive, and being dependent on other people,” Yodsanklai explains.
View this post on Instagram
"Greeting to all my friends brothers and sisters and my fans. I wanted lets everyone know that i am retiring from fighting. I have been fighting for a long time, I have been suffering from many injuries and most recent one that i took a year off from was a knee injury that i has gotten surgery for. From that point I have fought 4 fights. I don't feel like my body is performing to my expectance. The pain have multiply even in training and i know what is best for my body. I want to thanks everyone for always supporting and cheering for me so I wanted to let everyone know directly from me.
It was a year before that ordeal was over, as he stayed away from the ring for all of 2016.
The following year, Yodsanklai competed four more times and won every bout, but something was not quite right.
“I just felt that my knee was not as stable as it used to be. My cardio wasn’t that good, and my body wasn’t recovering from hard training sessions as quickly,” he explains.
Yodsanklai tried to hide the pain for almost a year before he made the decision to retire with a heartfelt message on his social media pages.
“I thought long and hard over that decision. Muay Thai had been the biggest part of my life for decades, so leaving it behind was a very difficult decision to come to,’ he adds.
“When I finally came to a decision, I was both relieved and sad.”
Don't miss Yodsanklai's return to action THIS FRIDAY!Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, 3 December 2018
He missed the training and the thrill of competition, but it was the right decision. Though the Muay Thai world mourned the end of one of the sport’s greatest careers, it came together to pay tribute to a legend.
However, that was not the end of the story.
Several months passed, and then the news broke that “The Hero” was coming back to ring in February 2018. The time Yodsanklai had taken off had allowed him to heal like never before, and reignited his competitive fire.
“[I came back] partly because I missed it, and partly because I felt my body was getting better,” he says.
“I had continued training at my own pace during my retirement, and I think that allowed my body to slowly recover and strengthen.
“Also, I think the break from everything made me mentally stronger again. It renewed my passion for Muay Thai. When you do anything for decades, there is always a chance of burning out. The body and the mind sometimes needs a break.”
Yodsanklai's INTENSE training for Friday's main event showdown Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, 3 December 2018
Around that time, the wheels were in motion for the launch of ONE Super Series. As one of the biggest names in stand-up martial arts, Yodsanklai would have been one of the crown jewels of the new all-striking league.
Fortunately for the world’s largest martial arts organization and its fans, he was thrilled to get the chance to join the roster and compete against the best in the business.
“I was excited and motivated [to start competing again]. ONE had recently taken on Muay Thai fighters, so it was all new for everyone,” he says.
“It was also fun to fight with the smaller gloves in the cage, so I’m even more motivated to get back to fighting regularly.”
Now getting stronger by the day, and with a sensational debut win in his back pocket, “The Hero” is back as one of the leading lights in the art of eight limbs.
He feels fit and strong, and he is ready to thrill the fans against Regis at the top of the bill in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Axiata Arena.
It is good to have him back.