Saemapetch Fairtex has a golden opportunity to even an old score and take a step closer to a World Title rematch.
The clash will also serve as the first semifinal matchup in the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament. The tournament champion will then challenge the division’s reigning king, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, for his World Title belt later this year.
Although Rodlek leads the head-to-head series 2-1, Saemapetch plans to use some new tricks in order to reach the tournament final.
Before he enters the ring for this colossal Muay Thai showdown, take this opportunity to learn more about the Fairtex standout.
Another Man’s Treasure
Saemapetch was born and raised in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, where life was immensely difficult.
His family was extremely impoverished. Both his father and mother were menial laborers who looked for work on construction sites and local farms, and if hired, they could earn up to 300 baht (US$9.65) per day.
If they were not hired, the family patriarch would earn money by collecting and recycling bottles and plastics. Saemapetch and his younger brother helped their dad when they could, and if the three of them could collect 200 baht ($US6.45), it was considered a good day’s work.
However, there were times when the family went without food.
“Sometimes, we literally had nothing,” Saemapetch says. “Other days, it was just rice mixed with fish sauce and chili flakes.”
To make life even more challenging, Saemapetch’s family lived in a single-roomed stilt house on his grandmother’s land. They slept and ate on the floor, with only a single fan to keep them cool from the heat.
The young Thai was determined to help his parents out, but it wouldn’t be through academia. Despite being a well-behaved kid, it became clear that his classroom pursuits were unlikely to pull his family out of poverty.
“As a child, I was very obedient and very quiet,” he explains. “I was not good at school, but I tried hard.”
But soon, he stumbled upon the sport that would change his life and help reverse his family’s fortunes.
Saved By Muay Thai
Like many young Thais who come from families living hand-to-mouth, Saemapetch saw Muay Thai as a way to try and break the cycle.
He may not have been the brightest student at school, but he possessed a great work ethic, which lent itself well to martial arts.
Saemapetch was first introduced to Muay Thai when he was 11. The town mayor spotted him on the street and asked him if he wanted to try out the sport. With limited options, he decided to give it a go.
“As a kid, the only way to make money in our country is to fight,” he says. “I decided to start training, and I had my first bout at a temple festival.”
The Thai showed prodigious talent and believed that if he could hone his skills, he could become a success in the ring. Most importantly, he could use Muay Thai as a way to help better his family’s financial situation.
“I wanted to do this to support my family and provide them with a good life,” says Saemapetch, who adds that his family was behind him all the way.
He initially studied “the art of eight limbs” in Chiang Mai under a trainer named Chuvalit – a man who he credits for teaching him everything.
From there, Saemapetch quickly rose up the ranks. Three years after picking up the sport, the aspiring superstar found himself competing for the first time at the world-famous Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok.
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A Man In Uniform
While Saemapetch was making waves in Muay Thai ranks, he also had his heart set on serving his country.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be a soldier or a police officer,” he reveals.
Though he did not become a police officer, he did realize his other childhood dream. Military life was exciting, but boot camp was extremely difficult.
“The first three months were unbelievably intense. It was much harder than anything I had experienced in Muay Thai before,” Saemapetch admits.
“Every day started at 4 a.m., and we didn’t finish until 10 p.m. I missed home and its comforts, but I was motivated by my family to improve the quality of our lives.”
Saemapetch’s athletic gifts were soon realized by the officers. After boot camp, he was chosen to represent the force as an athlete and was sent to the military’s top-notch facility to continue his Muay Thai training.
“I served in the Thai military for two years,” he says. “I competed in the army’s amateur boxing championships, and I was the tournament winner in 2017 at 63 kilograms.”
The army could have provided a stable life, but success in the ring had the potential to bring enough wealth to share with the whole family.
With that in mind, Saemapetch crossed his childhood dream off his bucket list and then pursued Muay Thai on a full-time basis.
The Road To ONE Super Series
Saemapetch has enjoyed a highly successful career already.
Ever since his first bout at the temple when he was 11, the Chiang Mai native has compiled a phenomenal 120-16-1 record.
Along the way, he captured the Tiger Cement Tournament Championship at Channel 7 Stadium and the Muay Thai Grand Prix Welterweight World Championship.
“I want to win a ONE World Title and be one of the top fighters in the world,” Saemapetch says.
For the past two years, he’s been inching closer to those goals.
The Fairtex representative decimated Deividas “The Lithuanian Savage” Danyla in July 2018, toppled future ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov in November 2018, and then he edged out Serbian-American striker Ognjen Topic in April 2019.
Although he fell to his idol and reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao last November, Saemapetch is hoping for a rematch, and that journey could start with a victory over Rodlek on Friday night.
“This time is different, and I also trained for additional skills as well,” the Fairtex standout says. “I have an ample amount of fighting experience, and I will use my new style to fight with him.”