Features

Joseph Lasiri Keeps Proving Doubters Wrong In Muay Thai Journey

Nov 18, 2020

WBC Muay Thai World Champion Joseph “The Hurricane” Lasiri is looking to steamroll his way through one of the strawweight division’s top superstars.

This Friday, 20 November, the Italian will face #2-ranked strawweight contender and WPMF Muay Thai World Champion Rocky Ogden in the co-main event of ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX IV, a previously recorded show from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Before Lasiri engages in this 59-kilogram catch weight encounter and produces the type of fireworks the global fan base is used to seeing, we revisit the journey that made him such an iron-willed warrior.

Youth In Milan

Lasiri was born into a Moroccan family in Milan, Italy. 

He was the third of four sons who were raised in Monza – just north of the city – which he admits was “not one of the nicest places” to grow up.

Though life was sometimes difficult, Lasiri’s parents worked hard to provide for their children.

“We were a modest family, with great hearts,” the 29-year-old says.

“My mother and father were working when we were younger, but the situation in Italy was difficult. They found it hard to always have work.”

Though “The Hurricane” was popular while growing up, he lacked focus in the classroom, which sometimes got him into trouble.

“I didn’t really like my school. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay a lot of attention. Now, I wish I did,” he says.

“I was very argumentative with the other kids, always very competitive in everything we did.”

Academics may not have been his strong suit, but the youngster found salvation through sport.

A Defiant Start In Martial Arts

Like millions of Italians, football was Lasiri’s first love. The sport gave him an outlet for his energy and a chance to stay off the streets.

However, he was rejected by his club because of his diminutive stature, which was a tough pill to swallow.

“I always loved playing football. When I was a child, I played for a local team,” he says.

“I started martial arts after getting kicked out of my football team for being too small – I was a lot smaller than all of the other kids. I had a vendetta about being excluded from football because they told me that I couldn’t do something.”

Without football in his life, Lasiri was left with nothing to do but hang around with other kids. That could have led him down a bad path, but he was determined to make something of himself. 

With the snub from football lighting a fire underneath him, “The Hurricane” soon found Muay Thai under coach Diego Calzolari. But even then, doubts were creeping in from those around him.

For example, Lasiri’s father thought he was too short and skinny to excel in “the art of eight limbs.” However, the youngster wouldn’t be denied again.

He stayed committed to his training, and his success in the sport quickly turned those negative opinions around.



Putting Family First

Lasiri had to put his training under Calzolari on hold when his family fell on hard times because of the economic turmoil in Italy.

His mother and father were out of work, so their son left the country to try and find a way to help.

“The hardest thing I have done was move to London because my parents didn’t have a job,” Lasiri says.

“I went there because I needed work to send money home for the rent.”

“The Hurricane” could not speak English when he landed in England, but his persistence and determination paid off as he found a job. Despite the language barrier and the weight on his young shoulders, he helped his family through its tough spell.

“What I learned from this is that you can always adapt to difficult situations without losing your passion,” he notes. 

“Hardships always teach you that once you have been through a hard time, it always gets easier afterward.

“It helped me in the sport as it taught me discipline and commitment, and it meant that I will always keep fighting for my goal. There is always a way.”

Overcoming The Odds

Even though he worked tirelessly during his time in Britain, “The Hurricane” found time to develop his Muay Thai skills.

He says he never missed a training session during his year abroad, which kept him sharp and in shape to prove his detractors wrong when he returned to Italy.

“I stuck with [Muay Thai] because every time after training, I realized how much better I was getting,” he says.

“After every success, I felt more confident in the sport and also in my life. It helped me a lot.”

Lasiri went on to win a collection of honors, including five gold medals with the Italian national team in international competitions and two European Muay Thai titles.

He topped it off with a WBC Muay Thai World Title win in February 2017 before signing with the world’s largest martial arts organization in 2018.

Since then, success in ONE has always been his primary objective. And Lasiri earned his biggest promotional win when he became the first – and only – person to defeat #3-ranked bantamweight kickboxing contender Hiroki Akimoto at ONE: A NEW ERA in March 2019.

The Italian could top that by defeating Ogden on Friday, and a victory could lead him on a road toward a showdown with ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao should he make a permanent move to the strawweight division.

Ultimately, whether it is in the strawweight category or the flyweight division where he has regularly competed, claiming ONE World Title gold would be the highlight of Lasiri’s career.

“The goal I still have is to win in ONE Championship, to have an amazing career, and build a happy and peaceful life,” he says.

Read more: Rocky Ogden Ready For His Next Tough Challenge In Joseph Lasiri