Behind many of ONE Championship’s leading athletes are some extremely strong women.
It takes an incredible amount of hard work and effort to reach the pinnacle of martial arts, and some of the biggest names on the global stage have mothers and grandmothers who have nurtured, encouraged, and inspired them on their journeys.
Here are six World Champions who reflect on their respective childhoods and praise the maternal figures that have impacted their lives.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s mother, Karen, showed her son that he could overcome any barrier if he worked hard enough.
“My mom definitely influenced me,” the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion says. “She always told me, ‘Anything you ever want, just go out there and get it.'”
Karen brought up her children largely on her own despite being born deaf, and she fulfilled her role with such little fuss that the young “Mighty Mouse” did not even know about her disability.
He was shocked when he found out, but that motivated him even more to succeed in all of his endeavors.
“There is one thing that has always stuck with me that my mom said: ‘Just work hard, and you can have whatever you want.’ That’s one of the things I keep in the back of my mind,” the American mixed martial arts legend offers.
Joshua “The Passion” Pacio is the most dominant ONE Strawweight World Champion in the promotion’s history, and he does not think that would have been possible without his mother.
“My mother has played a very significant role in my life. I love my mom,” the Team Lakay superstar says.
“She took care of me when I was just a young boy and shaped me into the man I am now. Without her, I don’t know if I would be standing here right now a World Champion.”
Pacio’s father moved abroad to work and earn money for their family. Ultimately, that forced his mother to raise him all by herself.
That was not an easy task, and “The Passion” respects the hard work it took for her to fulfill both roles.
“To be honest, I don’t know how she was able to do it, raising a kid all by herself. But I guess this is why our mothers are our superheroes,” the strawweight king explains.
“Mothers work very hard to raise their kids. It certainly was not easy raising a kid like me, but this is why I admire her so much because she essentially served as both the mother and father figure in my life.”
Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex
A mother's unconditional love guided this ONE World Champion to achieve incredible feats.Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onepower18
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, June 14, 2018
“The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex grew up in rural Thailand, and his mother combined her duties as a single parent with multiple jobs to provide for her son.
She was his carer, provider, and protector, and would do anything to put his welfare first.
“I remember being about five or six years old. My mother brought me to the fields while she cut sugar cane,” he explains. “There were a couple of dogs that charged me, but my mother chased them away.”
Now that he is an international superstar for his success in Muay Thai and kickboxing, Yodsanklai has tried to give back to her as much as possible for all of the sacrifices she made and lessons she taught him.
The Thai athlete cites his biggest achievement to date as his win on The Contender Asia because he was able to build his mother a house in their hometown of Nong Bua Lamphu with the prize money.
“My mother taught me that family is everything – that you can always count on your family,” he says. “I was very proud to be able to build my mother a house. It was a long-time goal of mine, and it was actually the plan going into The Contender Asia.”
This special soul gave Adriano Moraes a second chance at life ⤵️Full Docu-Feature ???? http://bit.ly/GEAMpart1Manila | 25 January | 7:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Facebook: Prelims LIVE | Twitter: Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE | Tickets: http://bit.ly/oneascent19
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes was abandoned on the streets of Brasilia, Brazil when he was just a few days old. Fortunately, he was taken in by an orphanage, which kept him out of immediate danger.
When he was three years old, he was adopted by Mirtes Moraes, who provided him with a permanent home and all the love in the world.
“The person who most inspired me when I was a kid is my mother, because of what she did for me,” Moraes explains. “Showing me unconditional love, and showing me the path to walk to make the best choices in my life.”
Mirtes encouraged her son to do sports to challenge and better himself, and though he did encounter some dangerous situations in his youth, she kept her faith in him and, eventually, he got back on track with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The ONE Flyweight World Champion’s motivation to succeed in martial arts came from his desire to make her proud.
“She means everything to me. She is my idol,” he states. “I did everything for her, and I continue to do everything for her, for this love.”
ONE Welterweight World Champion Kiamrian “Brazen” Abbasov pushed himself to be the best in martial arts so that he could repay his mother, Nona Alieva, for everything she did for him when he was young.
Abbasov’s father abandoned the family when he was three years old, and his mother had to work multiple jobs, and fulfill many roles, to raise “Brazen” and his sister.
“She was my mother, my father, my best friend, my confidant, and my inspiration,” he explains.
“We have never had any financial support from my father – not once. She really had to fight for me then, and now I am fighting for her. I feel it is my duty to help her and look after her.”
Now a father to a daughter named Jasmine, Abbasov can see how his mother worked so many hours and pushed herself to the breaking point just to provide for her children.
“Many years ago when I was a little kid, my mother used to tell me that I would understand her better when I have my own kids,” he continues.
“When [Jasmine] came into my life, I realized what my mother used to say about feeling this great responsibility to give your child the best start in life.
“Now, I am motivated more than ever before. I want to make all my girls happy – my mom, my wife, and my daughter.”
Things were tumultuous for Nieky “The Natural” Holzken in his early childhood. His parents split up, and his home life with his mother and stepfather was extremely volatile.
This led to bad behavior, and it could have got even worse had his grandmother not been there to help.
“I grew up at my grandmother’s house. She’s very important to me, she’s very special, and she has a special place in my heart,” he explains.
“It’s very special that she [took me in] because she also had five kids, and they were still at home. We lived with eight people in one house.
“She always helped me and protected me. She was like a mother figure around me. If I am at her house, I don’t call her grandmother, I call her mother.”
Holzken has surely made her proud with his immense kickboxing success, but he credits some of that to the wisdom she instilled in him when he was young.
“The greatest lesson she taught me was to just stay yourself and don’t show off too much,” he reveals.
“[She said], ‘Whatever you achieve in your life, just stay Nieky Holzken,’ and that’s it. If she wasn’t here, then maybe I would have gone a very different way in my life.”