There are few martial artists on the planet more extraordinary than Yodcherry Sityodtong.
The Thai teenage phenomenon has taken the world of Muay Thai by storm, and now has the chance to make history in ONE Championship by claiming the ONE Super Series Women’s Atomweight Kickboxing World Title.
Before this historic match, find out what has brought Yodcherry to a headlining spot at the Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium.
Growing Up With Girl Power
Yodcherry was born in the Thai capital of Bangkok, but moved south to live in Pattaya when she was 6.
She lived with her father, who did odd jobs to get by, and whose influence she admits helped to make her into something of a tomboy.
“Back when I was a kid, you have to understand that I grew up living with my dad,” she explains.
“That made me behave like a guy. I wasn’t a feminine, lady-like person.”
Her father would also have a huge hand in shaping the course of her life when he encouraged her to find a sport to participate in.
At first, he only wanted his daughter to have a productive way to spend her free time and get some exercise, but when she settled on Muay Thai, it turned into much more than that.
“Actually, he took me to try many kinds of sports. I tried golfing, taekwondo, everything. Then, finally, Muay Thai,” she says.
“It’s something I can do well. He took me to train in Muay Thai, and as I kept training, he saw my potential.”
Taking On All Comers
Even by the standards of Yodcherry’s homeland, 6 was an early age to start her life in Muay Thai.
However, her education at the world-famous Sityodtong gym helped her to have a fast start – even though she initially had no intention of competing.
“I didn’t think about being a professional athlete back then. I just wanted to work out, but my dad liked Muay Thai a lot, so I became an athlete,” she explains.
Just six months later, the prodigious martial artist stepped into the ring to compete. When she turned up for her bout, she found out she had to take on a boy.
It was a scary situation, but the young nak muay did not back down.
“I had no choice – I had to fight. I was already there,” she explains.
Yodcherry won, and as a result, her gym wanted her to take training more seriously and turn professional. She did.
Fending For Herself
Yodcherry enjoyed continued success in the Muay Thai ring, but she was burdened with great responsibility for a teenager while she was in high school.
With her mother and father already separated, she was left to fend for herself, when her dad left while she was in high school.
“We lost all our money. We went down to zero, so my dad had to leave. I had to continue studying in Pattaya, but my dad needed time to think and he went into the monkhood,” she explains.
Yodcherry started living by herself. When she finished school for the day, she went to work at her part-time job as a waitress.
At first, her mother helped to support her by sending money, but Yodcherry stopped asking for money when she felt she could stand on her own two feet.
In fact, when her father came out of the monkhood, she sent some of the money she earned from her job and Muay Thai career to support him, and help him build a new life.
“I had a pretty hard life, but I never looked at it that way,” she says.
“I always thought that things would get better tomorrow. I never felt demotivated. I never gave up.”
A World Title Chance On The Global Stage
Going out on her own did not stop Yodcherry from becoming a huge success in her homeland. She is a multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion with an outstanding record of 81-18-1 – all at the age of 19.
Now, she no longer moonlights to make a living. Now, living in Singapore and training out of Evolve MMA, she is a main-event star in ONE Championship.
Not only does she have the means to take care of her father, she has the opportunity to make history as the first ONE Super Series women’s world champion.
“[Being a champion] is really important to me. It’s like a test that challenges my capability,” she says.
“If I won, all the things I have done will finally pay off. I would be really proud of myself.”