“The Baby Shark” Petchdam Petchyindee Academy has always competed to provide for his family – the parents that supported him, and his younger brothers.
The ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion – who will defend his belt against Ilias Ennahachi in the main event of ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD – has two younger brothers whose future he is desperate to safeguard.
While their elder sibling works hard every day in Bangkok, training and competing, Jeenon, 17 and Rungrit 11, are encouraged to study in their home village in Ubon Ratchathani where they all grew up together.
Petchdam's incredible rise from unimaginable poverty to World Championship glory. Don't miss his first ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title defense on 16 August against Ilias Ennahachi!: Bangkok | 16 August | 5:30PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, August 5, 2019
The three brothers’ early memories of childhood in the rural Northeast of Thailand are idyllic, but Petchdam left that all behind when he was a teenager to train at one of Thailand’s most prestigious training centers, Petchyindee Academy.
It was a tough decision for him to take off to the capital alone and leave almost everyone he knew behind.
“I never really experienced what it meant to miss them until I left for Bangkok. After a while, that is when it first hit me, I really started to miss them.”
“We were really close growing up. We would go fishing, and shoot birds and lizards with homemade slingshots. It was a normal country upbringing, we always had a lot of fun together.”
Petchdam’s relationship with his brothers was not limited to playing around. He also did his best to help his parents keep his brothers on the right track.
Between balancing his budding career in Muay Thai, the WBC Muay Thai World Champion made sure his brothers pursued opportunities he never had.
“I used to help them with their homework, and would take them to school every day,” he explains.
“All three of us would ride our family’s motorcycle to school. I would first drop off my younger brothers at the elementary school before going to to the high school where I studied.”
Despite achieving so much success at such a young age in martial arts, and the way Jeenon and Rungrit watch his bouts with admiration, he hopes his brothers do not pursue the same kind of career.
While he is grateful for the life and opportunities he has, he does not want them to have to endure the sacrifice, grueling training, and the potential for injury that he does.
FROM ALL ANGLES Every shot of Petchdam Gaiyanghadao – 's picture-perfect knockout in his ONE debut! He defends the ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title on 16 August against Dutch prodigy Ilias Ennahachi!: Bangkok | 16 August | 5:30PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
“I want my brothers to go really far in their studies, and I don’t want them to have a difficult life.”
“I didn’t have the opportunity to study [in further education] because my parents couldn’t afford it, but now that I’m fighting, I can help pay for their education. I really want them to succeed in their studies.
“Jeenon fought before, just locally, but I don’t want either of them fighting. I don’t want them to get hurt. It is a tough life being a fighter, and I don’t want that for them.
“I want them to finish a degree so that they can get a good job. That is why it is so important for me to see them continue their studies.”
“The Baby Shark” has to support his brothers’ studies from afar, but he takes the time between his intense training sessions to call home as often as he can to check on them.
He also visits a few times a year, and when he makes the trip, he loves nothing more than treating them while they spend time together.
Even though Petchdam is a World Champion in The Home Of Martial Arts – and set to compete in the main event for the first time at Bangkok’s Impact Arena next Friday, 16 August – he still appreciates the simple things with his loved ones.
“I call them on the phone, tell them to listen to our parents and try their best not to disappoint them. I tell them to focus on their studies, and just keep going,” the 21-year-old explains.
“Whenever I visit home, I always spoil them. I’ll take them to nice restaurants, or go on little trips around the area. Sometimes we just chill at home and play on our phones.”
Petchdam is delighted that his success in ONE can help his family, and a win against Ennahachi in his first World Title defense on the global stage will further help him to secure their future.
However, more than anything, the Thai superstar just wants his brothers to grow up and become well-adjusted young men.
“I don’t have any specific goals for them, I just want them to be good people,” he adds.
“For now, I just want them to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and stay focused. In the future, I hope for them to have good jobs, and earn a stable income.”