Tukkatatong Petpayathai arrives in ONE Championship looking to continue ONE Super Series’ stellar run of thrilling match-ups.
The two-time Muay Thai World Champion (240-33-2) takes on Medhi “Diamond Heart” Zatout (75-37-1) in a ONE Super Series kickboxing bout at ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR.
The event will broadcast live from the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday, 29 June.
The Thai star’s journey to ONE Championship started back in his childhood. He grew up in Buriram with his father, who worked for the local government, and his mother, who stayed at home and looked after him and his two younger brothers.
“The village I grew up in is like any other small countryside village in Thailand – a quiet place where everyone knows each other,” says the 30-year-old.
“My life was a normal country kid’s life. I spent my time playing with friends and being naughty. I was quite misbehaved as a kid.”
Unlike many stories shared by ONE athletes, Tukkatatong’s route into Muay Thai did not come as a way of coping with bullies or keeping himself out of trouble. Instead, his passion for the art came from his father.
“My dad was a big Muay Thai fan. He used to watch all the fights on television. That is how I got introduced to Muay Thai,” he explains.
“I would watch the fights with him, and I became a fan. One day, my dad bought some gloves and a bag for us to mess around with.
“As time went by, messing around, punching, and kicking, I decided I wanted to give Muay Thai a proper go and try fighting.”
Like many Thai practitioners, Tukkatatong started young. His successes in the ring soon took him away from his hometown to Bangkok, where the best earning potential could be found.
“I started training at home at first, and then moved to a gym nearby called Sitkawee,” he says.
“I had my first fight when I was 10 – I was in the fourth grade. After fighting for a few years in the provinces, I relocated to Bangkok at the age of 13 and moved to the Kiatpetch Gym.”
The move to the Thai capital helped Tukkatatong take his skills to new levels, as he refined his technique and developed his own aggressive style.
That style took him to his first title – the Channel 7 Stadium World Title – and a host of wins over some of the biggest names in the sport.
“I am most proud of my Channel 7 Stadium belts,” he says.
“My proudest win would be when I beat Ninmongkon, as he was a top fighter.”
Things weren’t all plain sailing for the Thai star, however. Despite his obvious talents in the ring, he had to overcome a crisis of confidence.
He returned home to Buriram after her seriously started to doubt his future in the sport when he was a teenager.
Ultimately, circumstances with his family proved to be the spur that kept him going.
“The hardest time of my life was when my family lost all our money,” he explains.
“My dad was up for re-election for the local government. He spent a lot of money on his campaign, but lost the election. We were left penniless. It was extremely difficult for everyone.
“Once my family went bankrupt, I decided I had to return to fight and help the family out with money.”
Tukkatatong went back to the ring with added drive. Now he wasn’t just competing for himself, he was competing to help his family.
It proved to be a source of immense inspiration, and helped power him through tough bouts and difficult training sessions in the gym.
“We got through this hardship by fighting and never giving up,” he says.
“Seeing my dad continue to fight and refusing to give up taught me that you can overcome anything, as long as you keep fighting. I carry this with me today. I refuse to give up.”
That never-say-die spirit carried him all the way to ONE Super Series, where he’ll follow in the footsteps of his Evolve MMA teammates – Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, and Singtongnoi Por Telakun.
Despite being a veteran of 275 matches, Tukkatatong says the prospect of competing on the biggest stage of his career with ONE fills him with excitement ahead of his debut on Friday.
“ONE Championship is the biggest stage I have ever fought on,” he says.
“There are so many people following ONE around the world.
“All my Muay Thai World Champion teammates at Evolve MMA have performed so well so far in the ONE Super Series. I look forward to putting on a show too.”