‘Life Was Very Dire’ – After Facing Starvation As A Child, A New Hunger Fuels Indonesian MMA Star Linda Darrow

Indonesian MMA fighter Linda Darrow

Undefeated knockout artist Linda Darrow has finally arrived in ONE Championship, and she is ready to show that Indonesian fighters can compete and win at the highest levels of MMA.

The 33-year-old will debut against dangerous Brazilian Victoria Souza at ONE Fight Night 7: Lineker vs. Andrade II on Prime Video, which airs live in U.S. primetime from the historic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

For Darrow, that showdown on Friday, February 24 will be the culmination of a lifetime of training, hard work, and struggles endured.

Here’s how the 6-0 atomweight made it from poverty in her homeland to chasing her dreams on the global stage for martial arts.

A Family Of Martial Artists

Born into a humble family in the Sumatran city of Jambi, Darrow is the youngest of three children and has hardly ever known a life without combat sports.

The Indonesian star has deep roots in martial arts. She began her training at the tender age of 6, picked up boxing at 9, added wushu sanda in her teenage years, and by 22, was training in the all-around sport of MMA.

That lifelong dedication to learning hand-to-hand combat is in Darrow’s blood as she comes from a family of martial artists.

She told ONEFC.com:

“[My parents] always said that martial arts would help me in defending myself. And they often said that learning it might give me the chance to be a champion. 

“My father was a judoka. He wasn’t an Olympic-level athlete but had been a regional athlete and had loved martial arts. My two older brothers are martial arts practitioners. The second oldest is still boxing and is a trainer.”

Surviving On The ‘Bare Minimum’

Today, Darrow is a world-class martial artist ready to compete alongside the best of the best in ONE Championship, but the road to the top hasn’t been easy.

The indomitable spirit, toughness, and grit needed to reach this level is a reflection of her hardscrabble upbringing. Because, despite her loving and supportive parents, Darrow’s childhood was marked by abject poverty as she lived a life of constant struggle few could imagine.

Looking back, she recalled some of her family’s most difficult years:

“My late father was in the military and my mother was just a housewife. My father’s salary wasn’t that much, and he had been stretched with raising his three children.

“We didn’t even have gas for our stoves and had to live on bare minimum. We even had to look for wild yams to fill our stomachs. And we also had to walk for kilometers to school, we were living in Sumatra then. I’ve also experienced wanting to go to school but not having the funds to do so. My brother actually became a motorcycle taxi driver to collect money for school.”

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Not willing to accept her poverty-stricken fate, Darrow used those tough times to motivate her to greatness, pushing her through grueling training sessions as she fought her way to a better life.

And now that she is a mother herself, the Sumatra native is determined to never again experience the extreme scarcity of her childhood.

She explained:

“What really drove me into dreaming of being a World Champion was the financial crisis in 1998 when I and my family had to go on without eating any rice for two years.

“It was tough then, life was very dire, and I became motivated to earn more. I don’t ever want my mother or my child to experience being starved because we don’t have the money to afford some food.”

Getting A Shot In The Big Leagues

With those darker days behind her, Darrow’s arrival in ONE Championship has been celebrated by Indonesian fans, who are ready to see their compatriot earn international acclaim.

However, proud as she is to carry her country’s flag into the Circle, the Han Fight Academy athlete can feel the weight of an entire nation willing her to victory. Still, even in the face of that pressure, the prevailing feeling is joy at finally getting to compete on the global stage.

Darrow said:

“When I got the call, I was ecstatic. That’s why I kept my signing under wraps. I don’t want to disappoint my fans. [The fans] have given me a lot of faith. I was a bit nervous because a lot of the fans have been wanting to see me fight again. So, I prayed every day to have my ONE debut, and thankfully that chance has come.”

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Sure, there’s pressure to win and represent her country well. But Darrow has turned that pressure into motivation, drawing inspiration from Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol – a retired Indonesian ONE superstar and veteran of 12 thrilling MMA bouts inside the Circle.

Darrow hopes to pick up where Lumban Gaol left off and establish Indonesia as an MMA powerhouse.

The 33-year-old said:

“This is one of the reasons I’m confident and joined ONE. I want to show Indonesia and the world that this country has great fighters. It’s one of my biggest motivations.

[Priscilla] Hertati started the mission but now she has a family. Now it is my turn to continue the mission.”

Starting Her New Journey The Right Way

Darrow will face a stiff test in her promotional debut, putting her pristine 6-0 record on the line against 25-year-old Brazilian standout Victoria Souza.

But rather than focus on what her opponent might bring to the Circle, the Indonesian is primarily concerned with her own preparation as she aims to add another knockout to her ledger.

It’s a strategy that has worked exceedingly well in the rising star’s professional career to date – Darrow has scored a finish in all but one of her fights.

Looking ahead to her clash with Souza on February 24, her goal is to keep that trend going.

Darrow said:

“I aim to win my fights any way possible. KO and TKO are a bonus for me. It’s like an instinct for me to try and finish my fight when I’m in the ring. If I see a chance, I’ll get it done. One thing is for sure, I’ll try to dominate her in every round.”

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