Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex has become one of the most revered athletes in combat sports.
Throughout his 25-year career, he has claimed multiple Muay Thai World Titles in several divisions and become an international superstar.
While “The Hero” is proud of his accomplishments, he is especially grateful to the sport because it has given him and his family a life they never knew existed.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, 10 December 2018
Like many in his village, Yodsanklai was born into extreme poverty.
Hailing from the northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu in Thailand, the region is known for its lack of development.
This has caused many of the province’s residents to fend for themselves. Most inhabitants only make a meager living through farming rice, and have to forage for food.
Although it was a tough life, there were many benefits to growing up in the idyllic region of Isaan. It laid a foundation of perseverance and gratitude for the farmer’s son, who would later become a Muay Thai superstar.
“Growing up, we were so poor. We never even had a motorcycle,” the 33-year-old admits.
“Now, everything we have is because of Muay Thai. Every night, we can eat until our stomachs are full. Coming from such a small village, I’m really proud of myself to now be known worldwide.”
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Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Life as a rice farmer in Thailand lacked the stability and financial security Yodsanklai craved for his family.
While making the rounds as a boxer via the roughened trails of Muay Thai, “The Hero” found modest stability through his relentless competition schedule.
His successes did not go unnoticed, however.
A true diamond in the rough, Yodsanklai was later recruited to one of Thailand’s best gyms, the Fairtex Training Center in Pattaya, where he was polished into a multi-division World Champion.
Never forgetting his roots, he continued to strive for excellence. He captured nearly every World Title in sight, all in pursuit of creating a better life for his family.
Using his competition earnings, “The Hero” built his family a house and even opened up a small convenience store for his mother. The impact of Muay Thai was echoed throughout the village.
The simple investment went on to make a long-term difference by easing the financial burden on his family. It afforded the family their independence and the ability to support themselves.
Also, it set a precedent for the younger generation on what Muay Thai could do for aspiring pugilists.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Muay Thai has provided beyond the physical presence of money for Yodsanklai and his family. It has created a life that could never have been achieved through farming or menial labor.
Looking back on the life he created, memories of fishing in ponds and digging for snails seem like a distant memory.
Now, he is an international superstar and a celebrity in his homeland.
Although Muay Thai transformed his name and his livelihood, it also equipped “The Hero” with many invaluable skills that continue to benefit him on a daily basis.
“I’m definitely healthier because of Muay Thai,” he acknowledges.
“Training full-time, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition. I’ve also learned dedication, tolerance, patience, as well as respecting my opponents and the true meaning of sportsmanship.”
Beyond the tangible life skills, empowerment, and the ability to defy all odds, Yodsanklai has traveled the world representing his nation and its ancient art of eight limbs.
He has gotten to mix and mingle with some highly influential people, appear on television, and compete in the biggest showcases all across the globe.
“I never thought that I would get this far,” he continues.
“As a child, I dreamed to one day be able to take a single ride on an airplane. Now, I travel so much it has become normal.
“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of famous and important people in all walks of life. It’s been an amazing ride.”
The next stop on this amazing ride for Yodsanklai is Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, 31 March. He squares off against two-time K-1 World Max Champion Andy Souwer at ONE: A NEW ERA in a 72-kilogram kickboxing affair, and he hopes a victory will guide him closer to a ONE World Title.