Stefer Rahardian is working his way up the ONE Championship ladder, but while he works hard to make a name for himself inside the cage, his mind is never far from home.
The 31-year-old is undefeated at 7-0, and joined ONE last year, winning all three of his bouts in the process.
While his career is moving in the right direction, he admits he holds concerns for his family.
Rahardian lives with his mother, Margaretha, in East Jakarta, and the pair see a lot of each other while he’s training at Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA. However, large parts of his training are undertaken in Bali, at Bali MMA, leaving his elderly mother alone. It’s a situation he’s far from happy with.
“There can be trouble, so I am worried about that,” the admitted.
“Sometimes I am not at home. Every day, I am training, and I’m thinking about her.”
That constant concern for his mother comes from the fact that he’s already lost a loved one, having seen his older brother pass away when he was just a boy.
Now that he’s the oldest son, he feels the responsibility of stepping up and looking after his family. It’s something he thinks about every day.
“I am always thinking about how I can make my mom happy,” he said.
“She tells me I am doing lots of big things for her, but I still think I need to do more.”
The reason for that line of thinking is simple. Without his mother, Rahardian may not be in the relatively comfortable position he finds himself in today.
His parents divorced when he was just 10, and his mother brought up Stefer and his siblings single-handedly. While Rahardian was at school, struggling to deal with the bullying he suffered there, his mother was working hard as a waitress in a Japanese restaurant in Jakarta’s business district.
She eventually earned enough to buy a small house in Mararam, the East Jararta district where drugs and violence were commonplace.
“My mother was really, really important to me growing up,” Rahardian recalled.
“She gave me everything when I was a kid: school and shelter. She worked really, really hard to buy a house.”
Thankfully that neighbourhood is a much safer, more pleasant place to live today, and Rahardian is keen to use the money from his martial arts ventures to improve his home.
Everything has to happen in its appropriate time, and Rahardian’s immediate focus is his battle with Pakistan’s Muhammad “The Spider” Imran at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE on 20 January.
“I am busy with preparation for training,” he said.
“I cannot spare a lot of money. I have to eat properly and buy supplements.”
Life is far from easy, but without his mother things could have been significantly worse. And he’s determined to work his hardest to give back. He also has the backing of his friends and training partners at Bali MMA, whose guidance has seen him reel off seven straight wins so far in his promising martial arts career.
“They (the team at Bali MMA) treat me like a brother,” he said.
“At training, they help you. They push you. They give attention to your mistakes.
“I am just an ordinary guy. I am just an ordinary athlete. I would not be here without them.”