Two-time Muay Thai World Champion Tukkatatong Petpayathai is powering his way towards another World Title in ONE Championship.
The Thai star has his sights set on championship gold in ONE Super Series, and takes on fellow contender Ognjen Topic at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in Shanghai on 8 September.
The Evolve Fight Team member says his success has been due in no small part to the influence of his father, Thawin Meeha, who first introduced him to the sport.
“He was a great father, barely scolded me for anything, and barely got angry,” Tukkatatong says.
“He led by example and showed me the right way by doing it.
“I have learned so much from him on how to keep fighting and never give up.”
Tukkatatong’s father worked in local government. It was a demanding, time-consuming role that meant he could provide for his family.
“He was in charge of overseeing the different developmental projects of the district on the funding side of things.
“[I admired him] very much. He was good at his work, and he never gave up, no matter what challenges he had.
“He was very well-respected and liked by his peers.”
Even though Tukkatatong looked up to his father, he had other plans for his own career. He harboured a desire to become a professional Muay Thai kickboxer and had dreams of competing in Thailand’s famous stadiums.
His father gave him all the encouragement he needed, providing him with the equipment he needed to train, and exposing him to the sport from an early age.
“He started bringing me to Muay Thai fights from the age of 5, and it really developed my love for the sport,” Tukkatatong says.
“He started teaching me at the age of 10, but had actually bought me gloves way before that. It was for fun at home, just to play around.
“After 10 fights locally, my father saw the potential in me, and brought me to Sitkawee gym.”
Tukkatatong had a natural aptitude for “the art of eight limbs” and he moved to Bangkok’s famed Kiatpetch gym when he was 13 years of age, following success at the regional level,
He did his best to stay in touch with his family, and when he was 16, he returned home, unsure of his Muay Thai future. Once again, he found his father to be hugely supportive.
“He didn’t have any emotional reactions. He told me, ‘Whatever you do is up to you,’ and that he would support me no matter what,” the Muay Thai star says.
It was all the encouragement Tukkatatong needed. He threw himself back into his training and grew into one of the best Muay Thai competitors on the planet.
Heading into ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in Shanghai, his career record reads 241 wins, 33 losses and 2 draws, and he is on course to win a third world title, and his first in ONE Super Series. To achieve that aim, he will have to book himself into a title bout by defeating Topic on 8 September.
His father will be cheering him on, every step of the way, watching from back home in Thailand.
“Back in Thailand, he would attend every single fight. Now, it’s slightly more difficult as I fight overseas a lot, so he tries to watch when possible,” Tukkatatong says.
“He is very proud, and it gives me joy to know he’s always behind me, watching my fights.”