How Zuli Silawanto Drove Adrian Mattheis To Break ONE Records

Adrian Mattheis with coach Zuli Silawanto

Adrian “Papua Badboy” Mattheis owes everything to his head coach, Zuli “The Shark” Silawanto.

The Indonesian strawweight has been molded into one of his country’s most exciting and successful mixed martial artists under his mentor.

If he can defeat Stefer “The Lion” Rahardian at ONE: DAWN OF VALOR this Friday, 25 October, he will stand alone as the most successful ONE Championship athlete in his nation’s history with 10 wins in the Circle.

“For me, coach Zuli has been like a father,” he says.

“He is the one who guided, nurtured, and supported me until I achieved this current level. He is the one who is assisting my dreams. He has given so much support and help.”

Silawanto is widely known in his homeland as the first Indonesian to get his hand raised in the Home Of Martial Arts – at the organization’s second-ever event in February 2012.

Mattheis first encountered his role model in person when he moved to his country’s capital to study at Jakarta Fisheries University and he walked into his gym. The North Maluku native wanted to follow in his hero’s footsteps, but he soon learned that it would not be easy.

Though “Papua Badboy” says “The Shark” is quite easygoing in everyday life, his demeanor changes when he is at work to make sure his athletes give maximum effort in training so they can deliver when the pressure is on under the lights.

“I wanted to be like him,” Mattheis says. “He once told me that if I were to be like him, I should prove it with my training.

“He is a hothead in training sessions, as he wants us to maximize our potential, and give all that we have trained in practice in our bouts.”

Silawanto has also shaped his students’ lives, and approach to martial arts outside the Circle.

Like many coaches, he has emphasized that they should live their lives according to the values every martial artist should possess. He has also taught them about their duty to pass on what they have learned, so many people can benefit from the wisdom they have absorbed.

“He told me that I should not keep all the knowledge I have gained for myself,” says Mattheis.

“What you share will be your blessings. This is what I have done for my friends. All my knowledge and skills may be able to help others, so when I have passed from this life, my good deeds will still continue.”

Under his idol’s wing, “Papua Badboy” has achieved great success on the global stage.

Just a few years after he began to train at Tigershark Fighting Academy, he made his ONE debut and captured the ONE Strawweight Indonesia Tournament Championship with two first-round knockouts.

Though the learning curve was steep at the highest level after that, Mattheis learned from a couple of tough losses against some of the best athletes in his division, and he has won seven of his last eight contests. In that time, he has also become his division’s leader with the most bouts, wins, and finishes in its history.

That, says his coach, is due to his diligence in the gym, and his ability to absorb information like a sponge.

“Six years ago, when he came to me to train, Adrian had always wanted to become successful as an athlete,” Silawanto explains.

“I thought he could just be saying things, but in time, he was able to prove his words. He attended practice sessions regularly with his school mates, and had the discipline [he needed]. This was when I saw his determination, and how he was easy to direct. This is special about him. 

“Adrian is smart enough to interpret instructions from his corner. This is essential as coaches may see a fight from a broader angle compared to the athlete competing in the ring.”

As long as Mattheis does that, his trainer anticipates he has every chance of defeating Rahardian at the Istora Senayan this Friday and achieving his short-term goal of competing on the main card of a ONE event.

“So far, he’s been competing in the prelims, but I have always told him that he should still give his best in his bouts, as the opportunity will soon arise,” adds “The Shark.”

“When it is there, Adrian will be ready!”

Read more: 3 Bouts That Could Steal The Show At ONE: DAWN OF VALOR

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