‘My Only Trainer’ – An Inside Look At The Relationship Between Jonathan Di Bella And His World Champion Father

Jonathan Di Bella Danial Williams ONE Fight Night 15 6

Jonathan Di Bella has put together a remarkable kickboxing career, and he’s been learning from one of the best since the very beginning.

On April 5 in Asia primetime, the undefeated Italian-Canadian star will defend his ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Title against current ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion Prajanchai PK Saenchai at ONE Friday Fights 58: Superbon vs. Grigorian II.

When Di Bella walks to the iconic ring at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, he’ll be followed closely by his father – multiple-time Kickboxing World Champion Angelo Di Bella – who’s cornered his son for every amateur and professional fight.

The defending titleholder spoke to onefc.com about their uniquely close relationship and their work at the family gym, Team Di Bella Kickboxing:

“He’s been my trainer, my only trainer, since I was a little kid, since I was 2 years old. So yeah, we know each other very well, and we work well together.”

Under the careful tutelage of his father, the 27-year-old striker rapidly rose through the amateur ranks before turning pro at 19.

Since then, he’s amassed a pristine 12-0 professional record, including a pair of World Title victories in ONE Championship.

Di Bella says his father has been an integral part of his incredible success at the elite level, pushing him to maintain the discipline needed to be a World Champion:

“You know, sometimes, obviously, we butt heads. But that’s just father and son at the gym, you know. But we never argue. I always listen to him, whatever he says. Our relationship is great, especially now that I’m still fighting. I still live in his house, so he’s very strict on me.”

There should be no surprise that Di Bella and his father occasionally run into conflict.

Those situations are simply unavoidable given their demanding schedule and the pressure of competing. With that in mind, the strawweight kickboxing king makes sure to take some time away to keep their trainer-athlete relationship healthy.

Di Bella explained:

“The challenge is a lot of repetition and always being together. Sometimes, it’s too much, so that’s why I have other things to do and sometimes get out of the house and separate. You know, you have other things to do other than fighting, other than work, and other than staying together. So it’s good to separate a bit sometimes.

“Every day is the same thing, same thing, same thing. So sometimes, you need a break.”

Di Bella Reflects On Lifelong Kickboxing Journey With His Dad

Jonathan Di Bella’s climb to the ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Title wouldn’t have been the same without his father by his side.

Moreover, he knows that his victories under ONE’s right lights are a reflection of all the time Angelo has devoted to his career:

“Yeah, it means a lot because we both want it the same. You know, he wants it just as bad as I do, if not even more, I believe.

“So yeah, it’s cool to share. That’s one thing that’s good, that we’re always together training, and we’re always together talking about what’s coming up next. It’s been a great journey since I was a kid.”

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While his father has long been a highly respected coach and trainer, Di Bella is his first student to achieve success at the global level.

Looking back at his lifelong climb through the kickboxing ranks, the Montreal native feels an immense sense of pride about where he’s come from.

Di Bella added:

“[My father] has had other amateur fighters. He never had a pro fighter, but he had other amateur fighters. He was in New York, where they were competing, and and I was a little kid watching them fight, and nobody ever thought I would have done that, but obviously, I’m now at the highest level, and I became one of the top.

So, all the other people that were under him are kind of freaking out, freaking out that I actually made it on a big stage. It’s kind of cool that we’ve always been together.”

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