Joseph “The Hurricane” Lasiri has always had to do things the hard way, but that has only made him more determined to succeed in the ring.
The Italian has been knocked down and written off throughout his life, but he has come back stronger every time. The 27-year-old is now a Muay Thai World Champion and has the chance to show his skills on the biggest stage in the history of martial arts.
The odds will be stacked against him inside the Ryugoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan against an undefeated hometown hero, but Lasiri is excited to mix it up with his opponent and go for the knockout.
Before their clash on ONE Championship’s biggest ever card, get to know how “The Hurricane” became such an iron-willed warrior.
Youth In Milan
Lasiri was born into a Moroccan family in Milan, Italy.
He was the third of four sons who were raised in Monza – just north of the city – which he admits was “not one of the nicest places” to grow up.
Though life was sometimes difficult, his parents worked hard to provide for Lasiri and his three brothers.
“We were a modest family, with great hearts,” he reveals.
“My mother and father were working when we were younger, but the situation in Italy was difficult. They found it hard to always have work.”
Though the “The Hurricane” was popular in school, he lacked focus, which sometimes got him into trouble.
“I didn’t really like my school. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay a lot of attention. Now, I wish I did,” he explains.
“I was very argumentative with the other kids, always very competitive in everything we did.”
Academics may not have been his strong suit, but he found salvation through sport.
A Defiant Start In Martial Arts
Joseph Lasiri SMASHIN' pads ahead of Saturday! Jakarta | 19 January | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneglory19
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, January 12, 2019
Like millions of Italians, football was Lasiri’s first love. It gave him an outlet for his energy and a chance to stay off the streets.
However, he was rejected by his team because of his diminutive stature, which was a tough pill to swallow.
“I always loved playing football. When I was a child, I played for a local team,” he remembers.
“I started martial arts after getting kicked out of my football team for being too small – I was a lot smaller than all of the other kids,” reveals Lasiri.
“I had a vendetta about being excluded from football as a sport, because they told me that I couldn’t do something.”
Without football, Lasiri was left with nothing to do but hang around with the local kids, which could have led him down a bad path in life.
Fortunately, he was determined to make something of himself, and the snub from his coach lit a fire underneath him that pushed him toward martial arts.
“The Hurricane” found Muay Thai under his coach Diego Calzolari, but the old doubts started to creep back in from those around him.
His father thought that he was too short and skinny to excel in the art of eight limbs, but Lasiri was determined not to be denied again. He stayed committed to his training, and his success turned those opinions around.
Putting His Family First
Lasiri had to put his training under Calzolari on hold when his family fell on hard times because of the economic turmoil in his homeland.
His mother and father were out of work without a way to pay their bills, so their son left the country to try and find a way to help.
“The hardest thing I have done is move to London because my parents didn’t have a job,” he explains.
“I went there because I needed work to send money home for the rent.”
“The Hurricane” could not speak English when he landed in the UK, but his persistence and determination paid off as he found a job. Despite the language barrier and weight on his young shoulders, he helped his family through their tough spell.
“What I learned from this is that you can always adapt to difficult situations without losing your passion,” he notes.
“Hardships always teach you that once you have been through a hard time, it always gets easier afterward.
“It helped me in the sport as it taught me discipline and commitment, and it meant that I will always keep fighting for my goal. There is always a way.”
Overcoming The Odds
Even though he worked tirelessly during his time in Britain, “The Hurricane” found the time to continue his training.
He says he never missed a training session during his year abroad, which kept him sharp and in shape to prove his detractors wrong when he returned to Italy.
“I stuck with [Muay Thai] because every time after training, I realized how much better I was getting,” he says.
“After every success, I felt more confident in the sport and also in my life. It helped me a lot.”
The One Shot De Pro representative went on to win a collection of honors, including five gold medals with the Italian national team in international competitions, and two European Muay Thai titles.
He topped it off with a WBC Muay Thai World Title win in February 2017, before he signed to the world’s largest martial arts organization last year.
Success in ONE is now his primary objective, and he has the chance to score the biggest win of his career in Tokyo this weekend against Akimoto, a WFKO Karate World Champion.
“The goal I still have is to win in ONE Championship, to have an amazing career, and build a happy and peaceful life,” Lasiri adds.