The most prestigious Muay Thai accolades in Thailand are the Sports Writers Association Of Thailand Fighter of the Year, and the Sports Authority Of Thailand Fighter Of The Year.
Winning one of these awards is often the highlight of an athlete’s career, and marks them out as truly elite in the art of eight limbs.
Muay Thai megastar Nong-O breaks down what it takes to be the best ⤵️Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao – who takes on Han Zi Hao for the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title at ONE: CLASH OF LEGENDS this Saturday, 16 February – has two winning years, a feat that can only be matched by a tiny number of other elite World Champions.
The 32-year-old superstar was first named Fighter Of The Year in 2005 when he took both of the renowned honors, and five years later he was recognized by the Sports Authority Of Thailand as its top competitor once again.
Like many of his peers, Nong-O was born into poverty. His parents toiled in the fields and worked in construction to make ends meet, so he started in Muay Thai to try and give his family a way out of that life.
As such, the humble youngster had not dreamed of reaching such heights when he began learning the art aged 9.
“The first time I was named Fighter of the Year, it was a big honor for me,” he recalls.
“When I started fighting Muay Thai in the small temple festivals in my village, I never thought I would one day receive the Fighter Of The Year award. Winning it brought honor to my family name.”
Nong-O is laser-focused on ONE goal ????Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, January 31, 2019
He was 19 when he claimed the Thailand National Title, and went undefeated during the year against the top contenders in both Rajadamnern and Lumpinee Stadiums.
With so much success in quick succession, Nong-O remembers the time fondly.
“All my fights that year were special. They all collectively helped win me the Fighter Of The Year award,” he explains.
“Finally being named the Fighter Of The Year after waiting on it for a few months really felt great – I was rewarded for all the hard work.”
There are a select few nak muay who have been given the award more than once, and in 2010 Nong-O joined that exclusive group.
He had been consistently active against Thailand’s leading competitors throughout that time – picking up Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Titles in 2006, 2007, and 2009 – but 2010 was a particularly strong year for him.
Nong-O is a BEAST.Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, February 2, 2019
The first mark on his calendar was an epic six-round battle in Japan against long-time rival Singdam Kiatmoo9, but the extension round decision went against him.
However, Nong-O’s resilience saw him rebound – he defeated Singdam twice later that year, and also successfully defended his Lumpinee Stadium belt with wins over the likes of Petchboonchu FA Group, Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, and Pakorn PK Seanchaimuaythaigym.
Again, he was active against the true elite of his sport, and that level of opposition could not be ignored by the Sports Authority of Thailand.
“Being named Fighter Of The Year in two different years is really special,” says the Evolve representative.
“To be named the Fighter Of The Year once is great enough already, so two times is a great honor. I’m really thankful.
“When you get into a groove and get on a roll, performing well, your confidence builds. If you’re confident and training hard, it’s hard to stop you.”
Five-Division World Champion Nong-O has come a LONG way from his humble beginnings in rural Thailand. This Saturday, he battles for his most prestigious World Title yet!Full Docu-Feature ???? http://bit.ly/NOHZH1Bangkok | 16 February | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onelegends19
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, February 11, 2019
Nong-O’s feat is remarkable, but doing it five years apart shows how he managed to maintain a remarkable level of dedication and skill.
Nine years on, he still carries the lessons from his earlier successes with him. They have kept him at the pinnacle of his sport for more than 14 years and prepared him to now challenge for the most coveted prize in all of martial arts – the ONE World Title.
“The secret to having a long and successful career is simple,” he explains.
“It’s all about being disciplined and working hard. As long as you keep focused, stick to the right routine, and don’t get lazy, you can compete at the top for a long time.”