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How Jonathan Haggerty’s Dad Put Him On The Path To Greatness

Jul 30, 2019

Jonathan “The General” Haggerty has reached the highest levels of the martial arts world, but he has one man to thank for making him take the first step.

The ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion – who is just days away from his first ONE World Title defense against Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES this Friday, 2 August – was taken to the gym when he was 6 by his father Jon.

His dad’s insistence that his son took up combat sports came from his own experience in the ring and on the mats. He knew that it would be a positive influence on the youngster’s life.

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“I’d been doing mixed martial arts a few years, and I did Thai boxing for about five years and fell in love with it,” explains Haggerty Sr.

“I had Jonathan doing it from when he was [very young]. It was just to keep him busy, keep him occupied, and keep him on the right path.”

Jon was an active competitor in the pioneering days of mixed martial arts in the UK, where he cross-trained in many different styles, but he found a love for “the art of eight limbs” and thought it would be a good fit for his young son.

He knew what life as a young man in London could be like, and he knew that the best way to keep his offspring on the straight and narrow was to make sure he had something positive he was passionate about.

It served that purpose well, as Jonathan evaded the trappings of life on the streets thanks to his commitment to the sport. While some of his friends ended up behind bars, he kept his focus.

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“I think the main reason [my dad got me involved] was for self-defense,” explains the 22-year-old.

“I think also when he was growing up, he wished he had a father that could get him into something like that, so that played a part as well. He wanted to do it when he was younger, but he didn’t have the opportunity, so he’s handed it down to me.”

It was clear from “The General’s” early days in the gym that he was a natural. His coaches and teammates were keen to make sure he stayed the course, and so was his dad.

He went as far as to retire from his own competitive career so he could help his son — which included opening up the family gym, Team Underground.

“Straight away as soon as he started training I could see that he was a natural, and a few other people would say, ‘You’ve got to keep him here,’ and I just knew it,” explains Jon.

“I decided I’d stop and concentrate on Jonathan. I just thought, ‘Yeah, we’ll take it to another level.’ Everything just went from there to today.”

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“The General” rose rapidly through the ranks and became a World Champion in his teens.

Whenever he was tempted to stray from the right path as a teenager, his father was there to keep him on track.

“It was tough, but that’s where my dad stepped in, and obviously, with his guidance, I went down the right path, which I’m very thankful for today,” he offers.

Haggerty Sr. was part of his son’s team when “The General” did something no other British man has done, and won a World Title in The Home Of Martial Arts.

He will be right by his side once again when he takes on Rodtang in their World Title contest at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.

“Jonathan has got a really good, loving, tight-knit family around him who keep his feet on the ground – that is really important,” Jon adds.

“I’m really, really proud of him.”

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