Sam-A Gaiyanghadao knows better than most the amount of perseverance needed to make it as a Muay Thai World Champion.
The former ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion – who will face Daren Rolland in ONE Super Series’ inaugural strawweight match at ONE: CENTURY PART I next Sunday, 13 October – experienced his fair share of setbacks on his way to legendary status in “the art of eight limbs.”
He admits there was a time in his career that he truly believed he would never become a World Champion because of the number of times he fell short in the biggest bouts.
When he was just a teenager, Sam-A earned his first shot at a Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Title, but he fell short against a fellow future legend, “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai Fairtex by the narrowest of margins.
His defeat did not discourage him, but when he lost two more shots at one of his sports most illustrious honors, Sam-A admits that he thought his chances of reaching the top were over.
“I was really discouraged. I just figured that I wouldn’t be a major champion,” he explains.
“I had beaten champions before, but would always lose during title matches. It wasn’t an issue of skill, it just came down to my luck and fortune.”
Despite his feelings of discouragement, Sam-A continued to work hard in the gym, and never stopped winning to maintain his status as one of the top contenders in Thailand.
His continued success meant another shot at glory was inevitable, and when he got the call to face Petch Por. Purapa for the 115-pound Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Title, he was determined to make it fourth time lucky.
Sam-A had already beaten Petch twice, but he had also lost to him once, so he had mixed feelings ahead of their contest.
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“It was my fourth title fight, and I figured I had a 50-50 shot,” he says
After five scintillating rounds, Sam-A earned victory through his incredible skill, and the famous strap was deservedly placed around his waist. It was a life-changing moment for the Thai.
“I was so happy when I won because I had already written myself off as a champion,” he says.
“It made me realize that I can do this – I can be a champion. The first belt was the hardest, but after that, it just came together for me, and I just kept going.”
Sam-A went on to win three national titles, another Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Title – which he defended multiple times – and the inaugural ONE Super Series World Championship. Combined with his otherworldly 366-47-9 record, he cemented his legacy as one of his sport’s true greats.
Strangely, he credits his trio of unsuccessful World Title challenges for his success. Every time he fell short, the Buriram native stayed dedicated to his craft and improved his skills to match some of the best to ever pull on the gloves.
“It taught me perseverance,” he says. “You must do your best every day, and each day, your best must be better than the last. It is hard, but you can’t get discouraged, because one day will finally be yours.
“These lessons I learned during this time have stayed with me for the entirety of my career. Not every day is going to be our day or perfect for us, so you must wait, stay focused, and wait for your day.”
- Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
- Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
- Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
- Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
- Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
- Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.