Before he became a two-division Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion, Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy was just a young country boy with big dreams.
He was a teenager when he left his village in Ubon Ratchathani and moved to Bangkok to take his Muay Thai career to the next level, and the 25-year-old admits it took him a while to settle in Thailand’s capital.
The transition was made easier thanks to the influence of some of the senior athletes at Petchyindee Academy, who took him under their wing.
One of those men was Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, the legendary, multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion who will defend his ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title on the same night that Petchmorakot returns to the ring at ONE: EDGE OF GREATNESS.
Nong-O was a hero to the young nak muay when he first arrived at Petchyindee, and he proved to be a mentor, too. Petchmorakot’s respect was repaid with humility and compassion as his idol shared his wisdom every day.
“Nong-O was at the gym when I first arrived. I was so excited to get to be around him, and even train with him,” he explains.
“He told me to stay focused and stay on the right path. He was older, and I listened to everything he said. It made me happy that he was helping me, paying attention, and taking an interest in me.”
Nong-O was one of the biggest names on the elite stadium scene in Thailand, but he was also an athlete that had figured out a blueprint to be successful in life, too.
His advice about how Petchmorakot could manage his career was invaluable, but the lessons he treasures the most came in the ring.
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Though the Sakon Nakhon native was older, bigger, stronger, and more experienced, Petchmorakot looked forward to sparring sessions with him because he could learn so much.
“He taught me lots of new techniques. He’s so advanced at Muay Thai, and has so many different moves,” the 25-year-old says.
“It was exciting to spar with him. He’s got so many specific techniques on how to stay standing in a fight, and throw weapons too. He was stronger than me, but would give me the chance to spar with him so that I could learn. He’d go light and teach as he went.”
Before long, Petchmorakot earned opportunities to show his skills on the undercards at Lumpinee. After he had performed, he often stuck around to watch the rest of the bouts – especially when Nong-O competed.
Over the next several years, Petchmorakot worked his way up to main event status and ended up at the top of two divisions, but his role model eventually moved on to start a new life in Singapore, and in The Home Of Martial Arts.
However, Petchmorakot soon joined Nong-O in the world’s largest martial arts organization, and has had the chance to represent his country on the same shows as his friend once again.
This Friday, 22 November, they will be on the same bill again at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and you can be sure that after he has competed against Charlie Peters on the undercard, he will stick around to watch one of his sport’s all-time greats defend his ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title in the main event against Saemapetch Fairtex.
“It was amazing to get to watch him fight live back in the day, and was a great opportunity for me too because everyone came to see Nong-O, so there were lots of people there. It was a packed stadium,” he says.
“Being on the same card as him [again] will bring back lots of good memories. It will be good to see him.”