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The Man Who Changed Zebaztian Kadestam's Life

Nov 13, 2018

If it was not for the support of one man, Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam would not be where he is today.

The Swedish superstar will challenge Tyler McGuire for the vacant ONE Welterweight World Title at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, 17 November.

However, his date at Stadium Istora would have been a pipe dream if he had never taken a trip to Thailand as a teenager.

At that time in his life, Kadestam was far from a paragon of virtue, but after he met a man known as “Iron Fist,” his life began to turn around.

How training in Thailand stepped up Zebaztian Kadestam's game immensely ⤵️

How Thailand changed the course of Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam's career ⤵️Jakarta | 17 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedream18

Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, 10 November 2018

“When I started off, there was one guy who really took me under his wing, took me off the streets, took me off the path I was going in life, and really changed my whole life, and that was Ole Laursen, the owner of Legacy Gym,” he says.

“He’s a great fighter. I look up to him as a fighter and kind of like a big brother. He changed my life. He’s one of my heroes.”

Kadestam got into plenty of trouble as a teenager in Uppsala, Sweden and was sent away to a juvenile detention center when he was 16.

His life began to turn around when he discovered martial arts, and once he had done his time and was free to explore the world, he headed to Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand, where he would meet his mentor for the first time.

“I came to his gym in Thailand when I was 18, and that’s when I just got out of juvenile detention,” he explains.

“I went there for three months, and he knew about this, and he helped me out – not in any big way, but we started to make a connection.”

Zebaztian Kadestam is _____ .

Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam is _____ .Jakarta | 17 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedream18

Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 9 November 2018

Kadestam returned home to study, but he was soon in trouble again.

“The Bandit” fell into debt, could not pay his rent, and became homeless.

His prospects in his homeland were bleak, and he felt his only choice was to fly thousands of miles away, back to Laursen and the transformative environment of his Muay Thai gym.

“I messaged him and said, ‘Hey man, I’m [in trouble] here in Sweden. Can I join your team and come right away?’” Kadestam recalls.

“He said, ‘I know you have a lot of demons, but if you work hard and leave the demons inside so we can work to get them away eventually, you’re welcome.

“I sold whatever I had and moved to Thailand. If he had said no, my life would be a lot different right now.”

Martial arts saved World Title contender Zebaztian Kadestam from going down a very dark path.

Martial arts saved World Title contender Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam from going down a very dark path.Jakarta | 17 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedream18

Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, 10 November 2018

And so began six years at Legacy, where the training he received from Laursen helped to reform his character and mold his talent.

The approach his coach took was not delicate, but it was exactly what the troubled Swede needed in order to become the best version of himself.

By working hard from day one with “Iron Fist,” he developed his durability and warrior spirit, as well as his martial arts skills, which makes him one of the most dangerous welterweights on the ONE roster.

“I think in his own way, he took care of me with the stuff I needed. It was hard in the beginning because he was fighting, too, and I was his size,” he explains.

“For the first two or three years, I was just getting beaten up. But you know, that’s what gave me my style. I was getting beaten up by a world champ for my first few years. It was serious training.

“I appreciate everything he did [for me]. I think he expected something from me, so I think he was hard on me, but he told me I had the potential to be great. I just needed to let everything else go.”

A sneak peek of what Zebaztian Kadestam has in store for 17 November ????

A sneak peek of what Zebaztian "The Bandit" Kadestam has in store for 17 November ????Jakarta | 17 November | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedream18

Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, 11 November 2018

With that help and guidance, Kadestam began to fulfill his potential as a martial artist.

He eventually became the PXC Welterweight Champion and later earned a spot in the world’s largest martial arts organization.

After six years, he moved back to his native land and started training at his new gym home Pancrase Gym Sweden, which has prepared him for his upcoming ONE Welterweight World Title showdown with McGuire.

However, the 28-year-old competes under the banner of two gyms, as a mark of respect for the person who helped make him the athlete, and the man, he is today.

“I will always represent Legacy Gym because what it has done for me,” he says.

Manila | 23 November | 7:00 PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onechampions18