‘You Can Hurt Me, But You Cannot Stop Me’ – Edgar Tabares’ Journey To World Title Shot Against Rodtang

Mexican Muay Thai fighter Edgar Tabares

Mexico’s Edgar Tabares is no stranger to overcoming adversity, having developed an indomitable, never-say-die attitude throughout his life.

On Friday, May 5, he’ll need every bit of that attitude when he takes on Thai superstar Rodtang Jitmuangnon for the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video.

Not only will he be making his ONE debut in a World Title fight against one of the planet’s most feared strikers, he’ll be doing it live in U.S. primetime at the organization’s historic debut on American soil.

Now just a couple of months away from his massive showdown with Rodtang at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, fans are dying to know more about the Mexican challenger who hopes to score the upset.

This is Tabares’ path from a bullied and sickly teenager, to his country’s top Muay Thai fighter.

Bullied By Those Closest To Him

The oldest of four, Tabares grew up in a tight-knit family that he remains close with today.

While he looks back on his upbringing in a positive light, proud to be the son of two loving parents, his childhood wasn’t without difficulties.

According to the 28-year-old, he was often bullied by those closest to him. He recalled:

“I think every single fighter I know was bullied. Yeah, I was bullied but not from the school. I was bullied by my cousins, my family, and some friends. And that was so bad for me.”

Perhaps because the bullying came from family and friends, Tabares felt particularly hurt.

But finding religion and faith in God helped him to overcome that pain and ultimately forgive those who bullied him.

He said:

“I was so damaged by this because my parents didn’t do anything, maybe because they didn’t want trouble with my aunts and uncles. But I think that this is something that was so stuck in my heart.

“But, as I told you, when I found God, I found the freedom I needed. So in this moment, I feel good. I feel free. I have the liberty and the freedom to hug my cousins, to hug my friends who bullied me.”

Channeling His Experience Into Strength

Being the target of bullying developed a resilience and toughness in the youngster that he would soon learn to lean on in the ring. 

Starting first in Taekwondo before moving to boxing and Muay Thai, Tabares found his mental toughness to be an asset in fighting. Equipped with that extreme level of fortitude, he quickly fell in love with hand-to-hand combat.

The 28-year-old said:

“You can punch me. You can hit me. You can hurt me, but you cannot stop me. You cannot stop me because I have dreams, I have things to do, and I have goals. And this is something that motivates me.”

Given his early experience in the high-flying, kick-heavy art of Taekwondo, Tabares easily picked up Muay Thai in his teenage years, rounding out his striking game with focused work on boxing.

Before long, he found himself in amateur competition. But for his first-ever fight, Tabares went to war with an unexpected opponent: his younger brother.

Reflecting on the unique circumstances of his first kickboxing match, he explained:

“It was so weird because me and my second brother started at the same time. I am one year older than him. We started together, we trained together, and when we had our first fight, we both had opponents [that pulled out]. 

“My brother and I were, like, ‘Oh, we don’t have our opponents.’ So we decided to fight each other. We were the fight of the night. This was my first fight, which was not exciting because it was with my brother. But to get into the ring and to see the people screaming and everything, it was so good.”

A Two-Year Hiatus

Just when the Mexican was beginning to show real promise as a burgeoning Muay Thai fighter, he became seriously ill.

At 17 years old, a debilitated Tabares was forced out of competition for two years due to hepatitis – a challenging ordeal he says he overcame thanks to his unbreakable faith in God.

He revealed:

“I trained with hepatitis. I fought when I had hepatitis. I lived with hepatitis without any knowledge about it. But when I noticed that I was sick, my liver was very bad. Seriously bad. I had to retire two years from sports.

“I was training and teaching Muay Thai. But I stopped my career as a fighter because I was so scared. But God was so good to me, and He healed me.”

Indeed, Tabares would bounce back to become Mexico’s top Muay Thai athlete. In 2022, he became the first Mexican to win a WBC Muay Thai International Championship, establishing his country as a growing power on the global competition scene and garnering the attention of ONE Championship in the process.

The journey has been a struggle at times, but Tabares has drawn inspiration from two important people along the way.

He said:

“My dad told me that it doesn’t matter if you have problems. If you have no money or anything, you have to give your best. You have to find a way to overcome everything. He’s a very hard worker, and he told me to be a hard-working person. 

“Another person I feel is my hero is my father-in-law. He’s also hard-working, but he told me that you could love. No matter if someone hurts you, you need to love him. Because if you don’t give love, you are not being a good person. There are a lot of bad people. There is a lot of evil in this world. You can make a difference by being a loving person.”

‘I Want To Dominate That Beast’

Even with his world-class accomplishments, Tabares is in for the stiffest test of his career when he squares off with Rodtang in Broomfield, Colorado. 

The Thai sensation owns well over 250 career victories, has never lost a striking fight in ONE, and is the organization’s long-reigning flyweight Muay Thai king. The Mexican, though, is up for the challenge.

He said:

“Here in Mexico we say, ‘Tomar el toro por los cuernos.’ Hold the bull from his horns. I know Rodtang is a beast, but I want to dominate that beast.”

Tabares has been pining for his shot against the best of the best in ONE Championship for years.

When he takes on “The Iron Man,” he’ll have the opportunity to do just that and recognizes he’ll need to be on top of his game to spring the upset and capture 26 pounds of gold on May 5.

Tabares said:

“I am so excited to fight with Rodtang. This is one of my dreams, to fight for the ONE World Championship. It is a gift from God to me, and I am going to pursue it as that. I don’t want to wait. I have to work hard for that dream.”

More in Features

Hiroba Minowa Gustavo Balart ONE 165 62
Shamil Gasanov Oh Ho Taek ONE Fight Night 18 31
Danielle Kelly Jessa Khan ONE Fight Night 14 11
Mayssa Bastos Kanae Yamada ONE Fight Night 20 13
Rambolek Chor Ajalaboon Soner Sen ONE Friday Fights 51 28
Lara Fernandez Yu Yau Pui ONE Fight Night 20 15
Elias Mahmoudi Edgar Tabares ONE Fight Night 13 28
Suablack Tor Pran49 Craig Coakley ONE Friday Fights 46 23
Aaron Canarte Akbar Abdullaev ONE Fight Night 12 5
Christian Lee becomes the new ONE Welterweight World Champion
Scottish Muay Thai fighter Amy Pirnie
Jarred Brooks Joshua Pacio ONE 166 12