Fans should brace for the ONE Championship debut of yet another talented Muay Thai star from Thailand, as Bangpleenoi Petchyindee Academy makes his bow.
Now honing his skills at the famed Petchyindee Academy in Bangkok, Thailand, Bangpleenoi is a two-division WMC Muay Thai World Champion who holds a professional record of 120-50-10.
This pinnacle moment in his career comes after two decades of dedication to the sport of Muay Thai.
His road to the top was not without its fair share of hardships. Bangpleenoi had to overcome incredible poverty and immense pressure ahead of his debut in The Home of Martial Arts.
Born and raised in Samut Prakan just south of the Thai capital, Bangpleenoi’s journey into the world of the art of eight limbs began even before he started school.
“My dad loves Muay Thai. He would always take me to watch fights at his friend’s house on the weekends,” he says.
“I remember everyone watching together and cheering very loudly. We’d watch all the fights, but his favorite was Channel 7 Stadium on Sundays.”
It did not take long for his father to nudge his young son toward the start of his career. At just 5 years old, Bangpleenoi was taken to the rugged 96 Penang Gym in Bangkok’s Klong Toey district, which is known for its slum.
“My dad wanted me to have a skill in life. He loved the sport, and believed in what it could do for me,” he explains.
At such a young age, Bangpleenoi was not yet ready for competition. Instead, he trained for nearly a year before it was time for him to make his way to one of the many local temple fairs hosting a Muay Thai event.
“I don’t remember much because I was still pretty young. I lost on points and gave my entire purse to my dad. I got paid 250 Baht (about USD$8),” he adds.
He continued to train and compete for a few years at temple fairs, government festivals, and private events, where he began to make a name for himself.
In time, the young martial artist had to travel even farther to find worthy opponents. Still too young for the stadiums, Bangpleenoi made the rounds through the provinces, specifically Isaan, where he would contest for large side bets.
In Isaan, there is an old saying that goes, ‘If you don’t have a side bet, don’t bother wrapping your hands.’ So, upon traveling northeast from the capital, Bangpleenoi arrived with cash in hand, ready to compete.
“When I was about 10 years old, everything changed. Things got a lot more serious,” he says.
“It was then I realized that if I wanted to pursue Muay Thai full time, I really had to do it.”
“My old gym didn’t gamble a lot, which was fine. Instead, the money was put up by gamblers who were following my career.
“From when I was 10 years old until my early teens, nearly every time I fought, someone was putting up 50,000 to 100,000 Baht (about USD$1500-3000) on me to win.”
“It was a lot of pressure, I didn’t want to lose people money.”
It was a hugely successful time in the young athlete’s career.
Instead of crumbling under the immense pressure and intense training regimes, he shone. Bangpleenoi went on to win nearly every regional title in sight – so many so he cannot even remember them all.
“I’ve won at least four or five regional titles as a child, from Isaan Champion to Central Champion.”
The added income he earned through Muay Thai was indispensable to his family’s survival. Like many who chose the path of Thailand’s ancient martial art, Bangpleenoi was born into poverty.
“We didn’t have much growing up. My dad worked at the port, and my mother stayed home to raise me and my older sister. We lived in a small wooden house but didn’t have any land for farming.”
“We always had enough to eat growing up, but couldn’t afford much else. We never had anything saved, and it felt like we were always living hand to mouth. Things got a lot better when I started fighting.”
The work in the gym paid off. Bangpleenoi began to make the rounds as a stadium competitor, and then went on to become a two-time WMC Muay Thai World Champion.
Having recently relocated to the famous Petchyindee Academy – home to ONE Super Series stars Petchdam, Petchmorrakot, and Sorgraw – after nearly two decades at 96 Penang, Bangpleenoi is set to begin a brand new stage in his career.
Now training in a modern facility with an improved training regimen, the 25-year-old is putting in the work for his first international outing against the Netherlands’ Pinas on the global stage for martial arts.
“I’m really excited and honored by the opportunity to compete for ONE. I am prepared to do my very best,” he adds.