Nat “Wondergirl” Jaroonsak has done some extraordinary things in her life, but none of them would’ve been possible if not for two very important decisions she made early on.
First, she decided to pursue a career as a professional female Muay Thai fighter, and second, she decided to walk in her own shoes instead of those handed to her by her mother – both of which are anomalies in her home country.
“I wanted to show [my mom] that I really wanted to do this, not just tell her that I wanted to do this. I wanted her to know that I was serious about making fighting my career.
“I understand in Thailand it’s kind of hard to say ‘no’ to your parents, which happens a lot here. It’s not right. Some parents had a dream before, and they couldn’t make it happen in their time. So, they think their kids are going to make their dream come true. I don’t think it’s right for the kids. Because, of course, even if you have dreams, your kids are going to have their dreams, too.”
And Jaroonsak had hers.
Ever since the 23-year-old could balance herself on both legs, all she thought about was becoming a professional fighter. How could she not? Her father, Jaroon Chanthasri, was an ex-fighter who trained her and her younger sister, Anna “Supergirl” Jaroonsak, in Muay Thai since they were toddlers.
Her mother, however, preferred to see the dynamic duo take up a profession that didn’t put them at risk of getting hurt. In fact, because Jaroonsak and her sister were tall compared to the average Thai, their mother wanted them to do modeling and casting calls.
The Thai brushed off the big-screen ambitions her mother had for them and continued with Muay Thai.
Although she’s not performing in modeling shoots or on movie sets now, the striking superstar entertains spectators in other ways – such as inside the ONE Championship Circle under the guise of “Wondergirl.”
She may be performing under an alter ego, but make no mistakes about it: “Wondergirl” is not an entirely unfamiliar role.
“It’s still me in there. Doing movie stuff, you have to be someone else. That casting stuff is different. [It’s] really hard. Fighting is way easier.”
Truth be told, fighting can also be way harder. “Wondergirl” found this out during her high school years, as she competed in Thailand’s Muay Thai circuit. Instead of training twice a day like most professional fighters in the country, she had to settle for training only in the evenings.
So, when it came time to step into the ring against future ONE World Title challenger Alma Juniku, Jaroonsak was ill prepared and suffered an injury that left her sidelined for a few months. But more importantly, the damage was something that her mother could just not accept.
“Wondergirl” told ONE Championship:
“She said I better retire or do something else instead of fighting. She didn’t want to see me get hurt. It made me think, ‘Should I give up and do something else, or keep going?’
“If I gave up that day, Nat ‘Wondergirl’ might not be in ONE Championship. She’d be somebody else doing some kind of job, or just studying. I don’t know. I thank myself that I didn’t give up that day, and that I still kept going.”
Jaroonsak’s mother eventually accepted the fact that her daughter was going to lay out her own path in life through fighting, but only after she was more adamant about her choices.
“When I trained and went back home and she saw my bruises, she worried. But I told her it’s part of the sport. Of course, you’re going to get hurt. We are humans fighting.”
Wondergirl’s Career Soars With Mother’s Blessing
With her mother’s support, Nat “Wondergirl” Jaroonsak would go on to capture two Thailand Muay Thai Titles and then debut in ONE Championship during August 2020. Once part of the organization, she racked up a pair of quick wins.
During that time, “Wondergirl” was also building upon her impressive striking skills by studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In her new discipline, she won grappling tournaments and even earned a blue belt – all of which will be beneficial in her upcoming transition to MMA.
But before she could make the switch, “Wondergirl” wanted one more crack at Muay Thai against a highly touted strawweight. So, in her third promotional outing, she took on debuting star Jackie Buntan, and her mother’s worst fears came true.
The Filipino-American dropped Jaroonsak with a left hook, causing enough damage to sideline her yet again – this time, for almost a year. However, just as the Thai phenom has come to accept the path that she has chosen, so too has her mother, even if the outcome of her daughter’s fights isn’t ideal.
“Now, she’s okay, though sometimes I get hurt. She said every time she sees me fight, it hurts her feelings that I get punched, kicked, and elbowed.
“[But after fights], she mostly calls me on FaceTime and asks how I am, how I’m feeling. She tells me she hopes I didn’t get any bad injuries.”
A mother’s love – there’s nothing like it in the world, even for a tough young woman like “Wondergirl,” who has proven that the path less traveled is often the most rewarding.
But Jaroonsak knows this is still just the beginning of her journey. She said:
“I’m really happy to do this career. It keeps me alive. I’m going to keep going until I feel I should stop. But not soon. I have a long way to go.”