Panpayak “The Angel Warrior” Jitmuangnon’s martial arts career has given him the chance to broaden his horizons far beyond what he could have imagined as a child.
“The art of eight limbs” took him out of poverty and Samut Prakan province to prosperity in the stadiums of Bangkok, but his entry into ONE Super Series took him beyond his country’s borders for the first time.
Now, the multi-time Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Stadium Muay Thai World Champion is ready for more new experiences as he prepares to compete overseas for the second time against Masahide “Crazy Rabbit” Kudo in a flyweight kickboxing match at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH.
Panpayak got to fulfill a long-term goal in December, when he traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to compete outside Thailand for the first time – despite more than 280 bouts on his record.
Following a masterful performance against Portugal’s Rui Botelho at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, he now has the chance to hit the road again and make another impression and gain new fans on the global stage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
“Joining ONE has changed my life. Not only am I better known internationally, but I get to travel and see the world too,” he says.
“It is such an eye-opening experience for me. After all these years in Thailand, I finally got to try and see something brand new. When you travel, you get to learn about new cultures. I find it very interesting about how they differ from Thailand, and the similarities too.”
These new experiences are a far cry from his life as a child, when he and his family suffered through extreme poverty, and he was forced to sleep at train stations after matches.
Back then, he could not have dreamed he would come so far – boarding planes and staying at nice hotels – so the Jitmuangnon representative is grateful for everything Muay Thai has given him.
“Muay Thai has provided my family with everything we have today. From being so poor we had nothing to eat, to letting me compete abroad and see the world,” he adds.
“Before, I used to think that I had no future in life. But now with Muay Thai, and competing abroad, I believe I have a real future in life. Muay Thai really has given me so many opportunities.”
Of course, the Thai hero would not have the chance to make money in the sport and travel far and wide if it was not for his talent and dedication.
Though the 23-year-old is highly decorated and the owner of a staggering 244-40-3 record, he is always open to learning new things, and that is something else his contract with The Home Of Martial Arts has given him.
Before ONE, his competition experience was limited to the Thai countryside and Bangkok stadia, but now he can absorb practical knowledge by rubbing shoulders with coaches and athletes from around the world.
“I am learning more about the fight game, too – what people do to get ready, different techniques, all of it. I find it really interesting,” he says.
“You learn a lot from traveling.”
Elite Thai athletes – including some of the modern greats – have been Panpayak’s opposition for the entirety of the young man’s career, but now he is excited to face competition from across the planet.
That means he will come up against new styles and new challenges, and take his skills to greater heights.
That is something the martial artist in Panpayak relishes, and one of the driving forces behind his decision to take on his first challenge under kickboxing rules when he travels to Vietnam.
“The opportunities at ONE Championship are motivating me to develop more as a fighter. Now I get to compete in kickboxing, and see a new country as well,” he adds.
“I am really excited – before my life was only in Thailand!”
Ho Chi Minh City | 6 September | 7PM | ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneimmortal19