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How Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Dragged Himself Out Of Extreme Poverty

WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has emerged as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet, and a national icon in his native Thailand.

The 31-year-old will get a hero’s welcome when he enters Bangkok’s Impact Arena on Saturday, 6 October, when he defends his coveted title in the main event of ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES.

However, as he prepares for one of the most important bouts of his illustrious career, he remembers a time far removed from the Thai capital’s bright lights, when he and his loved ones struggled to make ends meet.

From garbage collecting to gold-bearing, the inspirational rise of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

From collecting garbage to collecting World Championship gold, the inspirational rise of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.Bangkok | 6 October | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18

Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Northeastern Thailand province of Sisaket is famed for its natural beauty, but for most people living in the region, this does very little to ease their day-to-day burdens.

Like many other rural areas of the country, poverty is rife, and that is something the future World Champion is all too familiar with. He hails from these parts, and his own family lived a hand-to-mouth existence.

Srisaket, born Wisaksil Wangek, grew up surrounded martial arts. His father competed in Muay Thai, but it was more out of necessity than passion, as the purses he earned helped to keep food on the family’s table.

This did not immediately motivate the youngster to pursue a career in the ring, however. Early on, he was opposed to competing. He only changed his mind when he realized there were few options for a country boy without much education to make a decent living.

Muay Thai has a proven track record of giving poor youngsters a chance at a good life. Srisaket saw this, and aged 13 moved to the nation’s capital, despite the lack of faith from those around him. 

“I decided to come to Bangkok because people mocked me, doubting how I could make a living from Muay Thai,” he says.

“I came to prove that I could live by myself.”

Srisaket's story of struggle & sacrifice has inspired a nation.

Srisaket's story of struggle & sacrifice has inspired a nation, and the world.Bangkok | 6 October | 5:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18

Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, September 24, 2018

Unfortunately, things did not turn out as the teenager had hoped for.

The top athletes were well-paid superstars, but he was not one of them. Because of that, he was forced to find a day job to support himself. He trudged through the streets looking for work, and after being rejected for a position as a waiter, he picked up work as a security guard in a shopping mall.

“I did that job for four months until I had to quit,” he explains. “I was exhausted. I had to clock in at 7am and clock out at 11pm.”

While he was between jobs, he competed to make money to feed himself, if only with the bare essentials. He had no time to train, as he spent most of his day on foot working for anybody who would employ him.

That was reflected in his results and his lack of progression inside the ring.

Srisaket’s next job was as a trash collector, and though it did offer more reasonable hours, he still struggled to make ends meet. Now living in a room with his girlfriend, the pair would share packets of instant noodles – noodles for her, and the leftover soup for him.

On his rounds collecting garbage, he scavenged to add to his meager diet.

“I always found unwanted things that were not expired yet – salmon, beef, and these kinds of foods,” the Thai reveals. 

“They were in packages. I just collected them, took them home, and cooked them.”

Srisaket's one of the greatest World Champions to ever grace the squared circle.

Srisaket's one of the greatest World Champions to ever grace the squared circle.Bangkok | 6 October | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18

Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, September 13, 2018

Srisaket did not leave his home just to exchange poverty in one place for more of the same in another, and living on the borderline was enough to encourage him to explore a new opportunity.

He was told that promoters in Japan were always looking for Thai athletes to compete against their homegrown stars in boxing.

They wanted journeymen, but they would be paid well for their efforts — more so than professional boxers who stayed in Thailand to start their careers.

Srisaket jumped at the chance, but although he received a good paycheck, he posted a 1-3-1 record in his first five professional bouts – hardly the foundation of a world championship run.

However, there was a silver lining. During that time, he developed a love for the sweet science, and vowed to dedicate himself more to the craft so he could succeed.

“I was defeated three times,” he says. “The third time I lost was in Japan. At the airport, I told myself I would never get hurt again. And it never happened after that day.”

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai & Iran Diaz face off for the first time at the open workout for ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES!

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai & Iran Diaz face off for the first time at the open workout for ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES!Bangkok | 6 October | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18

Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Thai joined Nakornloung Promotion so his career could be managed properly and trained in earnest, and the results were nothing short of remarkable.

He would win 45 of his next 46 bouts, and captured a plethora of championships including the WBC-ABCO Super Flyweight Title, the WBC Silver Super Flyweight Title, two WBC Super Flyweight World Titles, and The Ring Super Flyweight World Title.

Now, he is one of the top pound-for-pound boxers on the planet, and he is enjoying more fame, recognition, and financial rewards than he could have ever imagined.

People see the World Champion, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but not the poor child from Northeastern Thailand, Wisaksil Wangek.

“Things changed entirely,” he says, reflecting on his life. “All the good things happened to me. I came from nothing, but now I have everything.”

Those did not just happen by accident, of course. He had the courage to persevere when the odds were stacked against him, the self-belief that led to his change in fortunes, and the discipline it took to get there.

What makes Srisaket Sor Rungvisai one of the most feared boxers ever?

What makes Srisaket Sor Rungvisai one of the most feared boxers ever?Bangkok | 6 October | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneheroes18

Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

All of these traits showcase why he is a martial arts hero, but he believes those characteristics are inside all of us, and that is the message he wants to send out to fans at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES on Saturday, 6 October.

“I want everyone to fight and never give up. You might step back, but you must move forward, too,” he says ahead of his World Title defense against Mexico’s Iran Diaz.

“I receive support from everyone, and I want to give that support back, too. We will fight together.”

Bangkok | 6 October | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App:http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets:http://bit.ly/oneheroes18