Amarsanaa “Spear” Tsogookhuu feels like the struggles he has endured during his life are just about to pay off.
The Mongolian striker will face Filipino superstar Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: MASTERS OF FATE in Manila, Philippines, this Friday, 8 November, and a win would propel him to new heights on the global stage.
“Spear” followed his sibling’s footsteps into the martial arts world, but he has worked hard to forge his own path, and a win at the Mall Of Asia Arena would thrust him into the elite tier of the lightweight division.
Ahead of the biggest bout of his career, Tsogookhuu reveals how he has emerged from being a “penniless athlete” to star in a co-main event match-up at a huge ONE Championship event.
Tsogookhuu was born and raised in the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar.
He was exposed to martial arts from an early age because of his sister’s career as an international kickboxer, as well as the rich tradition of grappling in his homeland.
“Like any other Mongolian boy, I grew up wrestling and scuffling with my peers, which might explain why I got into this sport,” he explains.
“I think it has something to do with our roots. Ancient Mongolian warriors used to wrestle with each other in their spare time to prepare for hand-to-hand combat.
“Of course, my big sister being a fighter influenced me a lot. I wanted to step onto the stage and have my name announced just like her.”
He began his own training at the age of 6, but it was not until he was an adult that he fully committed himself to making it a career in martial arts.
Before that, he studied law at university and did national service in the military — something else that motivated him to succeed in the Circle.
“I served in Mongolia’s Internal Troops Force between 2009 and 2010. A year in the army changed me for the better,” reflects “Spear.”
“The time I spent in the army with the heroic sons of Mongolian fathers helped me recognize the traits of a real man, which I strive to be.”
Inspiration To Try Mixed Martial Arts
Tsogookhuu started out in karate and then moved into boxing – inspired by his older sister’s success.
“As a child, I looked up to her and wanted to become a fighter like her. I’ve kept that dream in my heart for many years,” he reveals.
The Team Amaraa representative earned accolades in both sports – he is a Shidokan Karate World Cup Winner and Mongolian national boxing champion – but it was mixed martial arts that really captured his imagination.
In 2015, he trained with Baasankhuu Damlanpurev and Khuukhenkhuu Amartuvshin, who are pioneers of the sport in Mongolia, and was inspired to follow in their footsteps.
“The reason why I decided to take up mixed martial arts and leave boxing and karate was that Damlanpurev and Amartuvshin, both professional fighters, used to practice at our club,” says Tsogookhuu.
“They would travel abroad and compete in international competitions. I aspired to be like them. Then I made up my mind. That’s how I started practicing mixed martial arts with them.”
Sacrificing For Success
“Spear” was instantly hooked on this new sport, and he gave his full focus to reaching the top, no matter the cost.
“I didn’t do any full-time job as I was dedicating all my time to practice. I was just a penniless athlete who dreamed of becoming a professional fighter one day,” he reveals.
“I used to receive a lot of tempting job offers. Business people would ask me to work for them as their bodyguard and would offer me large sums of money, but I rejected all of them because I wanted to stay committed to my dream.”
His dedication contributed to a promising start to his career as he claimed the MGL-1 FC Lightweight Championship, but the purses at his level were not enough to support both him and his family.
However, even though he could not provide for his mother and father, they still backed him in his quest for the top.
“Not being able to give back to my parents was the heaviest burden I had to carry,” Tsogookhuu continues.
“This was the toughest challenge of my career, as well as of my life. I used to have these intrusive and repetitive thoughts about not being able to achieve my dream and disappointing my parents who sacrificed everything to bring me up.”
However, he remained disciplined and stayed the course, and he was rewarded with a place in The Home Of Martial Arts, where he would finally get the opportunity to provide for his family while following his passion.
Reaching The Global Stage
In February, Tsogookhuu made his ONE debut when he stepped in as a late-notice replacement to face Thai veteran Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai.
Despite his lack of preparation, as well as his opponent’s experience and hometown advantage in Bangkok, he scored a dominant victory by unanimous decision that immediately marked him out as a threat in the lightweight division.
That propelled him into the biggest bout of his career so far, which “Spear” sees as a chance to shine a light on his homeland.
If he succeeds in making the most of his opportunity, he will take a huge step toward his ultimate goal, which will prove that Mongolians are a match for athletes from anywhere in the world.
“I love my country so much,” he says. “By fighting the world’s best fighters, I think I’m drawing attention to my country. I see mixed martial arts as a great chance to showcase the strength and courage of Mongol men.
“I want to serve my country with everything I can do. This sport offers me a great chance to promote my country abroad. If I win the World Championship belt, a lot of people in the world will hear about my homeland. That’s what I want.”
Manila | 8 November | MASTERS OF FATE | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onefate19