Tukkatatong Petpayathai is at the top of his game as an athlete.
The two-time Muay Thai World Champion has quickly become one of the stars of ONE Super Series after his impressive victory over Mehdi Zatout in June.
Catch Tukkatatong's Muay Thai brilliance in action on 8 September!Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, August 20, 2018
The 30-year-old’s road to the top has been a long one, and he could not have done it alone.
The Evolve representative credits his father, Thawin Meeha, as the driving force in his life and career. Growing up in Buriram, Thailand, Meeha was his biggest influence, role model, and the man who introduced him to ‘the art of eight limbs.’
“He was a great father, barely scolded me for anything, and barely got angry, Tukkatatong says.
“He led by example and showed me the right way by doing it.
“I have learned so much from him on how to keep fighting and never give up.”
Tukkatatong’s dad was an elected representative in the local government – a role that demanded a lot of his time, and a great deal of hard work.
However, that allowed him to provide a good life for his wife and three sons.
“He was in charge of overseeing the different developmental projects of the district on the funding side of things.
“[I admired him] very much. He was good at his work, and he never gave up, no matter what challenges he had.
“He was very well-respected and liked by his peers.”
Though Tukkatatong respected his father for his work, he had no desire to follow in his footsteps. He always loved Muay Thai, and wanted to compete in Thailand’s most prestigious venues.
Meeha encouraged his son, buying the equipment he needed to practice, and eventually introducing him to the techniques he needed to compete.
“He started bringing me to Muay Thai fights from the age of 5, and it really developed my love for the sport.
“He started teaching me at the age of 10, but had actually bought me gloves way before that. It was for fun at home, just to play around.
“After 10 fights locally, my father saw the potential in me, and brought me to Sitkawee gym.”
Tukkatatong made great strides and won some regional silverware at home, which set the foundations for a move to Bangkok’s world-famous Kiatpetch gym when he was 13.
That took him away from his parents, but he still tried to call home as often as possible. Though he spoke to his mother almost every day, his father’s busy schedule meant he could only get hold of him three or four times a month.
At the age of about 16, however, Tukkatatong went home. He admits he was not doing well in his Muay Thai career, and decided to stop competing so he could figure out his future.
His dad was nothing but supportive.
“He didn’t have any emotional reactions. He told me, ‘Whatever you do is up to you,’ and that he would support me no matter what,” the Muay Thai star says.
Meeha continued to encourage his eldest son to be hardworking, know his responsibilities, and to be loyal. Whatever profession he chose did not matter.
Spurred on by the support, Tukkatatong soon picked up his gloves again, and went on to become one of the most successful Muay Thai practitioners in the world. His record now stands at an incredible 241-33-2, and he is already one of the leading contenders in the Home Of Martial Arts.
Though his dad may not be ringside when faces off against Topic in Shanghai’s Baoshan Arena, Meeha will be glued to his screen, cheering his son on from home.
“Back in Thailand, he would attend every single fight. Now, it’s slightly more difficult as I fight overseas a lot, so he tries to watch when possible,” Tukkatatong says.
“He is very proud, and it gives me joy to know he’s always behind me, watching my fights.”
Shanghai | 8 September | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast