After more than a decade away from his home country, “The Dragon Leg” Tial Thang will finally return to Myanmar and make his professional mixed martial arts debut in ONE Championship this Friday, 8 March.
This could be a glorious homecoming for Tial Thang. His family left the country 15 years ago in search of better opportunities in the West and now, he looks to return as Myanmar’s next sports hero.
Before he steps into the cage for his first appearance in The Home Of Martial Arts, take this opportunity to learn a little more about Aung La N Sang’s protege.
A Love For Wrestling
The foundation of my MMA is Chin Wrestling! Myanmar is rich with many different martial arts, the more well known ones…
Tial Thang grew up in Hakha, a small town in a mostly undeveloped region, and began wrestling at the age of six.
The style of wrestling is known as naban, and it turned into a strong passion real quickly.
“Wrestling is the biggest sporting culture we have,” he explains. “We would wrestle on the sand almost every day to find out who was the strongest and most skillful.”
He became one of the most skillful youngsters in his community and went on to become a four-time Chin State Wrestling Champion.
Although his family relocated to the United States when he was 10 years old, he shifted his naban skills to amateur wrestling and earned plenty of success.
“The Dragon Leg” excelled in high school, wrestled for Syracuse on the collegiate level, and won New York State Championships in Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling.
Discovering Mixed Martial Arts
Tial Thang was a talented grappler, but his love for combat sports was elevated at the age of 18 when his friend taught him some simple strikes.
Three weeks later, he competed in his first amateur mixed martial arts bout.
The Myanmar athlete used what he had learned – a jab, followed by a takedown – and managed to claim a decision victory over a taekwondo black belt.
“Now I have developed my skills and taken my time,” he claims. “Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, I have improved my all-around game.”
At first, Tial Thang’s mother and father pressed him to continue his education and forget about mixed martial arts. But as he accepted more amateur bouts and worked on his skills, his parents began to realize his potential.
Values Learned From Dad
When Tial Thang and his family arrived in New York in the early 2000s, his father immediately found work.
Despite the unfamiliarity of the big city and the language, he secured employment at a factory and on a construction site. He earned money as a gym cleaner on the side, too.
Tial Thang remembers his dad sleeping a maximum of fours hours per night, and learning to read and write English. Like in Chin State where he worked repair jobs, his father had to do everything possible just to put food on the table.
“I knew how hard that would be on my father’s body,” he says. “Something like that motivates you. Hard work is the key to everything.”
Tial Thang also found steady work fixing air conditioning units and started a family with his childhood sweetheart.
The fire to compete in mixed martial arts was still burning strong, however, and there was only one man he could turn to who would truly understand.
Meeting “The Burmese Python”
“The Dragon Leg” quit his job and began training with the future two-division ONE World Champion, and he has rapidly developed under his guidance.
The pair are currently training at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida alongside other elite martial artists.
Although Tial Thang is away from his family, “The Burmese Python” believes he has what it takes to be Myanmar’s next big martial arts superstar.
He will have a chance to display his world-class talent on the global stage against Rin Saroth at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium on Friday.
“The main focus is getting a victory,” he says. “That will be the key to everything. I want to stay active as much as I can in ONE.”