The arrival of Tukkatatong Petpayathai (240-33-2) to ONE Super Series is set to make an outstanding year for kickboxing fans even better.
A slew of legendary names have already made their debuts in ONE Championship’s striking-only contests in 2018, and every single bout has been nothing short of brilliant.
On Friday, 29 June, the Evolve MMA representative will look to continue the trend against Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout (75-37-1) at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR in Yangon, Myanmar. They will battle in a kickboxing match-up to be contested at a catch weight of 67kg.
Before that encounter takes place at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, find out a little more about what led the two-time Muay Thai World Champion to the Home Of Martial Arts.
A Happy Childhood In The Land Of Smiles
Tukkatatong was born in the northeastern Thai province of Buriram.
He grew up there with his father, who was a representative in the local government, and his mother, who took care of him and his two younger brothers.
“The village I grew up in is like any other small countryside village in Thailand – a quiet place where everyone knows each other,” the 30-year-old says.
“My life was a normal country kid’s life. I spent my time playing with friends and being naughty. I was quite misbehaved as a kid.”
Tukkatatong may have been a bit of a troublemaker, but he was not taken to his first Muay Thai classes to teach him a lesson. He began his education in “the art of eight limbs” because of his father’s passion for the sport.
“My dad was a big Muay Thai fan. He used to watch all the fights on television. That is how I got introduced to Muay Thai,” he explains.
“I would watch the fights with him, and I became a fan. One day, my dad bought some gloves and a bag for us to mess around with.
“As time went by messing around punching and kicking, I decided I wanted to give Muay Thai a proper go and try fighting.”
Making Muay Thai A Profession
Tukkatatong committed to the sport when he was 10 years old. What began as casually punching and kicking the heavy bag quickly progressed to competing inside the ring.
He won his first belt in the provinces before he made the switch to the nation’s capital, where he would win many more.
“I started training at home at first, and then moved to a gym nearby called Sitkawee,” he says.
“I had my first fight when I was 10 – I was in the fourth grade. After fighting for a few years in the provinces, I relocated to Bangkok at the age of 13 and moved to the Kiatpetch Gym.”
A step up in training in Bangkok helped him develop a signature style renowned for its versatility. He is known to compete aggressively and offensively, as well as be able to change things up and react with precision technique.
That style would help him to become recognized as one of the finest Muay Thai practitioners in the world.
That status was earned when he won his first championship in 2007 – the prestigious Channel 7 Stadium World Title – and recorded wins against many of the sport’s most elite athletes.
“I am most proud of my Channel 7 Stadium belts,” he says. “My proudest win would be when I beat Ninmongkon, as he was a top fighter.”
The Spirit Of A Warrior
It did not always seem like Tukkatatong was destined to become a Muay Thai icon.
A few years after he first moved to Bangkok, he went back home when he hit a rough patch in his career. He returned to Buriram to contemplate his future, but a decision about what to do next would soon be forced upon him.
“The hardest time of my life was when my family lost all our money,” he explains.
“My dad was up for re-election for the local government. He spent a lot of money on his campaign, but lost the election. We were left penniless. It was extremely difficult for everyone.
“Once my family went bankrupt, I decided I had to return to fight and help the family out with money.”
That experience gave him a renewed focus on his martial arts career at a critical time.
The lessons it taught him – particularly through his father, whom he describes as his greatest inspiration in life – would also help him to persevere through his toughest training sessions and matches.
“We got through this hardship by fighting and never giving up,” he says.
“Seeing my dad continue to fight and refusing to give up taught me that you can overcome anything, as long as you keep fighting. I carry this with me today. I refuse to give up.”
The Home Of Martial Arts
Now, with a remarkable record in the books, Tukkatatong will make his ONE Super Series bow.
Despite already competing in 275 previous matches, Tukkatatong is excited to have the chance to test his skills again, because of the platform he will compete on.
“ONE Championship is the biggest stage I have ever fought on,” he says. “There are so many people following ONE around the world.”
He also recognizes the challenge Zatout poses. The Thai-based Frenchman is a powerful force who brings 75 victories into the match.
“I am confident going into this bout,” he says.
“All my Muay Thai World Champion teammates at Evolve MMA have performed so well so far in the ONE Super Series. I look forward to putting on a show too.”