As one of the most dominant forces in Muay Thai for the past 15 years, “Mr. Lightning” Lerdsila Phuket Top Team has a list of accomplishments that can rival almost any of his contemporaries.
The 37-year-old multi-time world champion is famous for his evasiveness, speed, and vast arsenal of strikes. Now, like many other of the sport’s top competitors, he has been given a chance to showcase his incredible talent on the global stage for martial arts.
Lerdsila will make his ONE Championship debut on Saturday, 23 June. He is scheduled to collide with Bayon and PNN Stadium Flyweight Champion Sok Thy at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, at the Studio City Event Center in Macau.
Before he sets foot in the ring for his first ONE Super Series bout, learn a little bit more about his journey to becoming a living legend in his craft.
A Simple Childhood In Northeastern Thailand
Lerdsila hails from a small village in the northeastern Thai province of Chaiyaphum where agriculture is the main driver of the local economy.
Many families there are poor and barely make enough money to survive, and the famed martial artist’s was no exception.
But despite growing up with little, Lerdsila had a stable upbringing thanks to a hard-working, close-knit family.
“I enjoyed country life,” he says. “My family worked on the rice farm all of their lives. They loved me very much.”
Lerdsila never embraced his time at school, merely seeing it as a playground for him and his friends.
From a young age, the only education he was truly passionate about was his Muay Thai lessons, which came courtesy of his father.
But because his father was more fan than practitioner, “Mr. Lightning” – at the tender age of 7 – was brought to another villager’s house that had an actual ring to train in.
A Fast Start To His Muay Thai Career
Once it was clear Lerdsila had a natural ability for “the art of eight limbs,” his mother and father encouraged him to pursue it as more than a hobby.
Without many other options to earn a decent living, tapping into his raw talent and desire to help his family would be the best way to provide for his loved ones.
“My family always supported me,” he says. “Being the only son, I wanted to help provide and be a good son for them. From a very young age, people knew I was very good at Muay Thai.”
“At 8 or 9 years old, I realized it could be a career for me. My father taught me first, and then I moved to a bigger gym, and then to Bangkok – at Jocky Gym.”
Joining an elite stable like that at the age of 12 was another huge step towards his goals, and a testament to Lerdsila’s potential in the sport.
Droves of young children dream of becoming a world champion, training at a world-renowned gym, and making a lot of money for their families. However, few get the invite.
That training center produced many of Thailand’s top athletes of the 1990s, and Lerdsila was in good company to begin his own path as a professional.
He forged his style from his love and enjoyment of the martial art, and soon his reputation began to spread.
The Allure Of Bangkok’s Nightlife
Lerdsila’s rise was not without some stumbling blocks.
He went to the Thai capital to live out his dreams and to help and repay his parents for their hard work, but the switch from a quiet country life to the bright lights of Bangkok proved challenging for the teenager.
As Lerdsila’s fame grew, so too did his paychecks, and he found himself seduced by the lively bars and all-night partying.
“Our family did not have much money, but we made life what we could,” Lerdsila explains.
“After I was a big world champion and had lots of money in Bangkok, I would start to spend too much and enjoy partying too much.”
However, there’s little chance Lerdsila would still be at the top of his game at 37 – an age where most Thais are long retired from actively competing in the sport – if he had kept up his wild ways.
“Mr. Lightning” had his fun, but soon decided to calm things down in order to continue his ascension up the Muay Thai ranks.
“I learned just to enjoy food and drinks with my friends, and not always go out,” he says.
Becoming An All-Time Great
Although it was difficult for Lerdsila to leave his family and friends behind in Chaiyaphum to train at the legendary Jocky Gym, the sacrifice paid off.
“Mr. Lightning” became a three-division Rajadamnern Stadium World Champion, as well as a WKN, WPMF, WMC, WCK, and WLF Lightweight Muay Thai World Champion.
He also earned the Hero Legends Kickboxing Bantamweight World Title and, most recently, the Lion Fight Lightweight World Championship.
Lerdsila has accomplished everything he dreamed about. He is a multi-time world champion, he continues to excel at his passion, and he is supporting his family through his Muay Thai endeavors.
In fact, he recently built his father and mother a new house, which is one of his biggest accomplishments of all.
“This is a very proud moment for me,” he says.
Lerdsila will be looking for his next win – and potentially his next world title – in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai flyweight contest on 23 June.
He kicks off his ONE career against Cambodia’s Sok Thy – a 20-year-old Kun Khmer specialist with a remarkable record of 221-36-12.
It is set to be a fascinating match-up of striking styles at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, with huge potential to provide some of the stacked card’s most compelling action.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast