‘We Went Through A Lot’ – Felipe Lobo’s Journey From The Favelas Of Sao Paulo To Glory In ONE Championship

Felipe Lobo

Brazilian sensation Felipe “Demolition Man” Lobo could be on the cusp of another shot at the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title.

On December 8 in U.S. primetime, the #2-ranked contender will rematch #3-ranked Saemapetch Fairtex in a crucial contest that promises fireworks at ONE Fight Night 17: Kryklia vs. Roberts on Prime Video.

This will be Lobo’s fifth fight in the world’s largest martial arts organization, where he’s steadily solidified his status as one of the planet’s best and most entertaining strikers.

Before he attempts to beat Saemapetch once again at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, we take a deep dive into “Demolition Man’s” winding path to the global stage of martial arts.

‘I Didn’t Like Anyone Messing With Me Or My Family’

Born and raised in the favelas of Sao Paulo, Lobo comes from a humble family in which every member did their part to make ends meet.

He spoke to onefc.com about his hard-scrabble upbringing: 

“I started working very early to help my family. When I was 12, 13 years old, I helped my mother selling snacks. We had a childhood where we matured very quickly. From an early age, we learned the value of money.”

Given the rough neighborhoods of his childhood, Lobo also quickly learned the importance of defending himself.

While he certainly didn’t go looking for fights, the Brazilian says they found him. Reserved and soft-spoken by nature, he never allowed himself or his loved ones to be a victim:

“I was always a very shy child. I’m the oldest of the brothers, and I always had to take care of them. I was always very homely. I was shy, but at the same time, I was a brawler.

“I didn’t like anyone invading my space. I didn’t like little jokes. I was always a calm child, but at the same time, aggressive. I didn’t like anyone messing with me or my family.”

Falling In Love With Combat Sports

Showing no shortage of raw athleticism and a penchant for aggression, the teenage Lobo found his calling first in boxing and then in Muay Thai.

For the latter, he began training in “the art of eight limbs” at his cousin’s Team Amatha:

“At 15, I started boxing, and I fell in love. I quickly started to stand out and became more and more passionate about martial arts.

“And then at 16, 17 years old I also started practicing Muay Thai with my cousin, Rodrigo Amatha.”

The young striker achieved rapid success in Brazil’s ruthlessly competitive regional Muay Thai scene.

After proving his mettle against some of his country’s top talent, Lobo then made the life-changing decision to relocate to Thailand, where he would train with and fight against elite competitors in the birthplace of Muay Thai.

He recalled:

“I won several championships before I fought at Portuarios Stadium, which was the first Muay Thai stadium in Brazil, and I won the belt. Then my cousin said it was time for me to go to Thailand and fight against the best.

“I talked to my family and my friends. We raised money, and I managed to buy a ticket to Thailand.”

‘The Most Difficult Moment Of My Life’

“Demolition Man’s” move to Thailand would jump-start his journey to stardom, setting in motion his climb to ONE Championship.

But while the change of scenery ultimately paid huge dividends in his competitive career, it was also quite challenging for Lobo on a personal level:

“The biggest obstacle I faced in my life was living abroad. I had never been away from my family, and at the age of 20, I came to live in Thailand.

“It was very difficult to adapt and be away from my family. For four, five months, I was very sad and cried a lot. It was the most difficult moment of my life.”

Thousands of miles from Brazil, it should come as no surprise that Lobo felt homesick and experienced plenty of culture shock.

However, with his unshakeable faith and determination to achieve greatness, he persevered through the hard times:

“It was a very radical change in my life. It was all new, a different culture, but I was always very attached to God, and my family always helped me by praying and giving me good energy.

“That was how I managed to overcome it at the time, as it was a very difficult life transition.”

Inspired By Family

Since joining ONE back in 2020, the Sao Paulo native has won three of four thrilling battles, taking out some of the planet’s most feared strikers and losing only to then-ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Hama.

Still living far away from home, Lobo has established himself as a bona fide ONE superstar – an electrifying fighter who remains firmly in the World Title picture.

Through it all, he hasn’t once lost sight of where he comes from and is motivated by the chance to provide a better life for his parents and siblings:

“My biggest inspiration is my family. They give me the strength I need to continue. I always think about them. We went through a lot of difficulties, so I always think about what we went through, and I think all the time about helping them. This is what gives me the strength to continue doing what I love.”

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