Star Athletes Reveal How To Stay Positive During COVID-19

ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon prays following his win over Jonathan Haggerty

It is not easy to remain upbeat in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the stars of ONE Championship know that positivity is one of the only things that will keep people going through these difficult times.

Most governments around the world have told their citizens to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which means ONE Championship’s martial arts heroes have been forced to find other ways to train and maintain their fitness routines.

Also, the heroes know that billions are experiencing tough times just like them, and they have offered their thoughts on how to make the most of a bad situation.

Whether it is spending time with family, acquiring a new skill, or helping others, here is how the organization’s top athletes are spreading the positive vibes.

Rodtang Jitmuangnon 

Rodtang Jitmuangnon at ONE A NEW TOMORROW DC 6170.jpg

“I have to stay strong and healthy, especially in this situation. I have parents who are old and sick, and 10 siblings who I have to help. During this period, they are facing a hard time, as they have no job and are experiencing financial difficulties. I am the only one who can help them, and I am happy to see my family happy.”

Keanu Subba


“It’s pretty tough right now. We’re under strict controls, but I am an athlete, so I’m still training three or four times a day, trying to keep busy, and I’m eager to get back to fighting. It is the goal that keeps me pushing forward. I’m doing mixed martial arts to be a World Champion. That’s what keeps me going.

“When I broke my leg, it was like the red carpet was laid out for me to quit. But I knew if I stuck with it and withheld the pain a bit longer, then I could get back to fighting and reach my goal. Fighting is everything to me.”

Yoshihiro Akiyama

Yoshihiro Akiyama celebrates his win against Sherif Mohamed at ONE KING OF THE JUNGLE

“Taking advantage of this period, I try to do something I cannot do normally. For example, reading books, studying, researching, and finding materials for gaining more skills. Also, I am trying to improve my skills in video games and challenge in esports. I imagine myself on another level when the situation is over.”

Leandro Ataides 

Leandro Ataides _D4S2944.jpg

“For us who train and fight, it is pretty hard because we need someone, we need the training, and we need to work with each other. It [stinks], but the way I try to stay positive is training with my fiancée. We train together. She likes old-school boxing training, and she gets me to do yoga, too, and pushes me there because that is hard for me as a big guy.

“My family is also pushing me to be positive and do positive things. I talk to my kids, and I have to be positive for them because they are kids. I tell them to follow the rules – like not going out, washing their hands, and all that – but we play games and do some quizzes together online. Also, I have hope that this crazy thing will be over soon.”

Thanh Le

Thanh Le at ONE A NEW TOMORROW DC 1970.jpg

“I think my family and I are naturally positive creatures in our lives, and it is being accented during these trying times. My family and I always talk about short and long term goals, and it keeps us focused. When you are around positive people, it’s contagious and it keeps the negativity out.”

Amir Khan 

Amir Khan ONE KING OF THE JUNGLE DA 2609.jpg

“I’m doing a 75-day challenge. So, basically, for 75 days, you have to train twice a day – two 45-minute workouts, one indoor and one outdoor – and then you have to follow a clean diet. There are some other requirements where you have to read every day or take a selfie picture, for example.

“I’m doing this challenge because I heard a podcast from this guy named Andy Frisella, and I was just interested because he said this challenge will make you a different person. It will test you mentally, and I always like to challenge myself.”

Reinier De Ridder 

Reinier De Ridder DC 7756.jpg

“To be honest, I’m really enjoying myself. Everything I do – fighting, my physical therapy practice, and the gym – has been closed, so I’m spending all my time at home. It’s amazing to put my baby girl to bed every night, it’s really been a blessing in disguise. Financially, it’s not as fun, but we’ll manage.”

Troy Worthen


“I don’t want to let some issue like this beat me. I’m a very competitive person, and competitive in life as well, so COVID-19 won’t be the end of Troy Worthen, and nothing else will either.

“I’m going to try and use this to better myself, push forward, and hopefully help as many people in the process as I can. There are a lot of good people trying to help people out, so maybe with some extra time I can go help deliver food, help the needy, or whatever I may be able to do to help.”

Eko Roni Saputra

Eko Roni Saputra at ONE DAWN OF VALOR

“Here in Singapore, the government has enforced strict measures so everyone stays home. I have more time to spend with family, and I have become more aware of how precious our health is. Now I train alone, but I guess it’s time to stay home to protect our family.”

Gianni Subba

Gianni Subba DSC_7962.jpg

“I’m happy that my family and friends are healthy. I’m also very thankful that I have a roof over my head and food on my table. A lot of people are affected by COVID-19, and I always tell myself that I’m so much more fortunate than them.

“Obviously, this whole situation [stinks]. It feels like a big chunk of your life is taken away, but at the same time, if we decided to continue training, it is going to be a real danger. The last thing I want is to put my teammates at risk. I kinda found ways to familiarize myself with the situation, so I don’t think about it too much.

“It is also important to maintain a positive outlook during times like this. I have a lot of free time now, so I’m using it to improve myself in a lot of ways. This will eventually pass, and you’ve got to be ready for the opportunities that will come to you. So, if there is one way that I’ve kept myself positive, it is by making sure I keep improving myself every day to always be ready to grab an opportunity that will eventually come.”

Muangthai PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym

Muangthai PK. Saenchaimuaythaigym defeats Brice Delval at ONE A NEW TOMORROW YK 6868.jpg

“Staying in this situation with my family is the positive thing for me. Normally, I train at the camp in Bangkok, far away from my wife and daughter. I miss them. Now I can spend time with them every day. It’s a good time for me.”

Shoko Sato

Shooto Bantamweight World Champion Shoko Sato celebrates his big win in Manila

“This situation gave me a good opportunity to rethink my life, the world, the country, and the community where I live. I can be a little more positive in thinking like this. Since it is becoming clearer what I really need and what is important, I can live in a more intense way after the crisis is over.

“Unlike earthquakes or natural disasters, we can use lifelines such as water, gas, and electricity. Although we need to stay at home, we can do a lot of things. We should not just be sad, but instead be positive.

“I will do something I was not able to do because of the lack of time such as reading, cooking, video chats, and gaining more knowledge to think about what I can do after the crisis is over. I think we can stay positive if we accept the change and live in your own way under any circumstances.”

Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym

Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym ONE FIRE FURY DC IMGL1895.jpg

“I came back to my hometown in Samui. I help my father to catch the squid and sell them. I don’t know how the Muay Thai society will go in the future after passing this situation, but spending time with my widowed father is what I want to do. [That is something] I cannot normally do if I have to train in Bangkok.”


"The Terminator" Sunoto enters the arena in Jakarta, Indonesia

“Over-worrying is not a good idea since it may weaken our immune systems, so I need to stay positive, though I miss my training.

“Now I am in my hometown [in Blora] to be together with my family. I cannot go back to Jakarta yet, but I heard that the environmental condition there is improving. The sky is clearer with less air pollution, and there is less trash in the river as well.

“I think this also gives me a chance to strengthen my relationship with my family, particularly with my 5-year-old daughter, Aurelia Ratu Hafsoh. She is learning from home because her school is closed and indeed, it’s supposed to be the responsibility of parents to teach their kids. I haven’t done that lately.”

Hiroyuki Tetsuka

Hiroyuki Tetsuka enters the Circle at ONE CENTURY PART II YK4_9106.jpg

“I take this as a good opportunity to try something I didn’t previously have a chance to do such as reading, meditation, and study. I focus on what I can do rather than lament over what I cannot do.”

Azwan Che Wil

Malaysian athlete Azwan Che Wil kicks his opponent

“For me, this pandemic is a good test to show that if our country – or the world – unites, we will be able to fight off this virus. That, itself, keeps me more motivated and positive.

“Another way I keep myself positive is by looking at the brighter side of things. Obviously, this will come to an end one day, so we must try to maximize our time at home as much as we can. If you love cooking, but never had the time to do so, now is the time.

“I love Muay Thai, and although I cannot train at the same level at home, I’m still practicing a couple of basic moves to keep my mind and body healthy.”

Read more: Top 5 Body Shot Knockouts In ONE Championship

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