Opinion

Muay Thai Is Much More Than A Sporting Competition

There are currently three Muay Thai superstars holding ONE World Title belts.

Pick any of them – Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, or Stamp Fairtex – and you will find that although they come from different provinces, compete out of different camps, and walked different paths into Muay Thai, they all embody the same values.

If you watch any of these aforementioned athletes leading up to their bouts, you will quickly realize there is no trash talk, they don’t have braggadocios attitudes, and they don’t use unnecessary antics to promote their matches.

Make no mistake about it – when they enter the Circle, their goal is not only to win, but to win in decisive fashion. But the same hands that knock their opponents down are the same hands that pick their opponents back up.

Muay Thai teaches them humility, the importance of community, and that their legacies are part of something bigger than themselves.

Rodtang tells us matter-of-factly why humility is important to him. But words aside, his actions show us just how deeply “The Iron Man” feels about the value that Muay Thai has given to him.

Humility, above all else, keeps the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion grounded when he is on a successful run and keeps him encouraged when life knocks him down.

Even after he captured the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title – the biggest accolade of his career – an emotional Rodtang bowed at the feet of ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong before he accepted the belt.

There is no doubt “The Iron Man” will exhibit that attitude once again when he defends his gold against Walter Goncalves at ONE: CENTURY PART II in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.

Muay Thai strikers also remain closely tied to their beginnings, which may be no further from where they stand than a plot of rice. It was in the village, after all, where they overcame hardship despite the odds being stacked against them.

Through Muay Thai, Nong-O shows us just how much he values the village community.

The ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion represents a picture of success for anyone from rural Thailand. He has been able to escape what many white-collar Thai workers would consider a life of hardship: farming.

Although the Singapore-based veteran has temporarily moved away from the family farm to train others abroad and defend his World Title, he has never uprooted his family from the countryside.

Despite his immense success, Nong-O’s wife, sons, and extended family remain in Udon Thani close to their rural beginnings. He also frequently travels back to his hometown to spend time with his loved ones and stay in touch with his roots.



Stamp, the only two-sport ONE World Champion in history, originally started her journey in Muay Thai as a way to fend off bullies. She took to Thailand’s national sport and ran with it.

After a successful run on the local scene, the Pattaya resident signed with ONE and showed the world what Muay Thai was really all about – giving back.

For the Fairtex gym representative, being a good ambassador for the sport is an important value that “the art of eight limbs” has taught her.

Even if her ring entrances are meant to show her fun side, Stamp takes her role as ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion seriously.

She often returns to the places where she developed her craft and gives back to the people who helped her along the way.

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It may appear like each of these strikers enter and exit the Circle alone, but the contributions each athlete makes during their competitions nurtures the very thing that nurtures them.

Competition may bring them victory, but Muay Thai brings them values. Competing, then, is something they do – Muay Thai is something they live.

John Wolcott is the International Editor at ONE Championship. All opinions are the writer’s own.

Read more: Rodtang Ready To Trade With Walter Goncalves To Retain His Belt

ONE: CENTURY | ONE Championship’s 100th Live Event | Tickets: Purchase here

  • Watch PART I in USA on 12 October at 8pm EST and PART II on 13 October at 4am EST
  • Watch PART I in India on 13 October at 5:30am IST and PART II at 1:30pm IST
  • Watch PART I in Indonesia on 13 October at 7am WIB and PART II at 3pm WIB
  • Watch PART I in Singapore on 13 October at 8am SGT and PART II at 4pm SGT
  • Watch PART I in the Philippines on 13 October at 8am PHT and PART II at 4pm PHT
  • Watch PART I in Japan on 13 October at 9am JST and PART II at 5pm JST

ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.

The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.