When ONE Championship resumes its flagship event schedule with ONE: NO SURRENDER on Friday, 31 July, the card will feature a pair of best friends competing in the headline attractions while trying to leave the Thai capital with gold around their waists.
ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy will attempt to successfully defend his belt in the co-main event, and his pal, Petchdam Petchyindee Academy, will look to win the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title in the main event.
Sharing the top two spots of the card is a big deal for the Petchyindee Academy representatives, who have stood by each other since they were young kids training in the Ubon Ratchathani province nearly 650 kilometers away from Bangkok.
In fact, this is something Petchdam could never have dreamed about.
“I am happy because I never imagined that two country boys from Ubon Ratchathani would, one day, be fighting for World Titles together,” he says. “One is defending his World Title and the other is challenging for a World Title. I am so thrilled and proud. I never imagined that this day would come.”
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When Petchdam initially started learning Muay Thai as an 8-year-old in Ubon Ratchathani, he was coached by his father, who was completely inexperienced and never trained in the sport.
As a result, “The Baby Shark” did poorly in competition. Recognizing the need for better and more legitimate coaching, his dad brought him to the nearby Sit Odd Piboon gym. That’s where he developed a lifelong friendship with an older kid.
“When I started training there, I met Petchmorakot,” Petchdam recalls. “I knew Petchmorakot from the camp and trained with him since I was 10 years old.”
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For the next couple of years, Petchmorakot – who is four years older than “The Baby Shark” – took on a big brother role and constantly gave his young charge advice.
The two would run together, eat together, and train together. Eventually, they were inseparable.
“He’s like my older brother. We are very close,” Petchdam says. “When I would fight, he would always be in my corner. I’ve always looked up to him.”
For a brief moment in time, however, the two were separated from one another.
In 2010, Petchmorakot – then 16 – was in a bad place. He took a break from Muay Thai to indulge himself in the party lifestyle. But he soon grew tired of it and wanted to get back to training.
Rajadamnern Stadium promoter Mitr Nakorn contacted the young nak muay and brought him over to Petchyindee Academy.
Though Petchmorakot was receiving world-class training at the elite Muay Thai camp in Bangkok, he felt very isolated.
“I felt lonely at first because I used to always train with Petchdam,” he says. “The first time I came here, I felt like I missed my brother.”
Meanwhile, Petchdam was going through his own adversity back in Ubon Ratchathani. He had trouble managing his fighting career with his academics, so he took a two-year break from Muay Thai.
Soon, however, “The Baby Shark” realized that he didn’t get the same thrills in school that he did from training with his teammates and competing in the ring.
Once he graduated from secondary school, he spoke with his father and expressed his desire to chase his athletic dreams.
“I told my dad I wanted to go back to Muay Thai,” Petchdam recalls.
“My dad took me to see the owner of Sit Odd Piboon, the first camp that I trained with. But they sent me over to Petchyindee Academy.”
In 2014, Petchdam left the countryside for the capital city, where he was reunited with his best friend. Although both of them experienced bouts of homesickness, they had each other to lean on.
Over the years, their bond became even stronger and both have experienced massive success.
Petchmorakot has won several major belts, including two Lumpinee Stadium World Titles, the WBC Muay Thai Diamond Middleweight Championship, and most recently, the inaugural ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title earlier in February.
Likewise, Petchdam has claimed a plethora of titles, including a Lumpinee Stadium World Championship, a WBC Muaythai World Title, and the inaugural ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Championship in May 2019.
Through the good times and the bad, the two have stuck by one another.
“Petchdam and I are like brothers from another mother. We know each other inside out,” the 26-year-old Petchmorakot says.
“We have been staying together since we were young. We talk and play around every day. We share food and anything that the other lacks. Everyone knows I love him. Even though we are not biological brothers, I love him like one.”
It’s clear “The Baby Shark” feels the exact same way.
“Petchmorakot is like a big brother who gives good advice. He leads me in the right direction. He always tells me what is good or bad, what I should do and should not do, and everything,” the 22-year-old Petchdam says.
“He is very funny, not very serious, and I can always play with him. But I always respect him as a big brother. He is really a great guy.”
Now, both men will take the biggest step of their martial arts journeys together.
Petchdam will challenge ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon for the gold in the main event of ONE: NO SURRENDER, and Petchmorakot will defend his ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title against “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex in the co-main event.
Should the Petchyindee Academy representatives emerge victorious, it would be the highlight of their Muay Thai careers.
“If we both win at this event, it will be a glorious success for both of us,” Petchmorakot says. “I will be so proud of both of us since we both have known each other for a long time. I’ll be so proud.”