Features

How Jo Nattawut Lived His American Dream

February 13, 2019

When “Smokin” Jo Nattawut first came to the United States from Thailand in 2013, he was all alone, could barely speak English, and only had a few dollars in his pocket.

However, armed with the inspiration to live out the American dream, the Thai hero worked tirelessly to build a life for himself and set himself up for success as a martial artist.

Ahead of his return to ONE Championship in a featherweight Muay Thai contest against Samy “AK47” Sana at ONE: CLASH OF LEGENDS in Bangkok, Thailand, the 29-year-old has achieved more success than he could have ever imagined.

Muay Thai World Champion Smokin' Jo Nattawut goes for this third-straight win on 16 February!

Muay Thai World Champion Smokin' Jo Nattawut goes for this third-straight win on 16 February!Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, February 1, 2019

Born and raised in Thailand, the two-division Lion Fight World Champion discovered Muay Thai at an early age, but he was not interested in the grind of dedicating his life to the sport.

Once Nattawut gave up on a career as a martial artist, he aimlessly bounced from job to job and struggled to find a focus on any direction in life.

“When I was in Thailand, I was not interested in being a full-time fighter,” Nattawut explains.

“I played soccer, I worked at a hotel, I worked at a restaurant – I worked everywhere. I was partying and doing a lot of stuff.”

World Champion striker Smokin' Jo Nattawut promises to bring the this Saturday!

World Champion striker Smokin' Jo Nattawut promises to bring the this Saturday!Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19

Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, February 11, 2019

Finally, after getting fed up with his circumstances, Nattawut moved to the United States to find new opportunities that would give his life meaning.

Six years later, he believes the move was crucial to his development as a person as he dedicated his time to broaden his horizons and depth of knowledge.

“As a person, it’s changed me a lot because I moved by myself, and my English was so bad when I lived in Thailand,” Nattawut says.

“I didn’t study that much back in the day, but when I moved here, I had to study. I studied more, and it became my life. I have to read about something every day. I always have to do something.

“You have to learn a lot, so I became smarter living here. I can do a lot of stuff with business and all the other things I want to do.

“In the United States, everybody has an opportunity. If you’re not lazy, you study hard, you always have an opportunity.”

His fresh start eventually helped him fall back in love with learning and Muay Thai as well. When he met his longtime coach Ajarn Khunpon, he started training again in Atlanta, Georgia.

That relationship not only sparked his interest in the sport again but Nattawut began discovering things about training and preparation that he had never considered before.

He became a sponge for information about strength training, conditioning, and nutrition, which supercharged his abilities.

“As a fighter, I’m always at the gym. I work at the gym. I learn so much about fitness, not just hitting the pads,” Nattawut explains.

“You have to learn how to lift weights, eat properly and be strong, things I never heard of before. Being here, I focused on being healthy full time.”

DON'T BLINK when Muay Thai World Champion Smokin' Jo Nattawut steps into battle on 16 February!

DON'T BLINK when Muay Thai World Champion Smokin' Jo Nattawut steps into battle on 16 February!Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19

Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Those new elements of his training regimen have allowed his Muay Thai to flourish.

Even though he was away from the prestigious Bangkok stadium circuit, he picked up some World Titles in the past six years and became renowned as one of the sport’s top athletes.

That led to a slot on the global stage for martial arts, and “Smokin Jo” has been sensational in The Home Of Martial Arts so far.

A stunning knockout of Yohann Fairtex Drai and a dominant victory via unanimous decision against George Mann have set him up for a match with Sana at the Impact Arena.

This match – which is part of the most stacked ONE Super Series lineup yet – allows Nattawut to have the best of both worlds, as he gets to travel home to finish his training camp at Bangkok Boxing, acclimatize, compete in front of his countrymen, and then head back to his adopted home.

Although he still loves his native land, and says he may return for good one day, Nattawut still has a lot of goals and aspirations to achieve before his American journey is over.

How many kicks did Smokin' Jo land here?!

How many kicks did Smokin' Jo Nattawut land here?!Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19

Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

“I’m focused on doing business and making things better,” Nattawut says.

“In the future, I might want to go back, but there are so many things I want to do in the United States. Maybe Thailand is the best fit to retire.”

Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super Apphttp://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Ticketshttp://bit.ly/onelegends19