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Mixed Martial Arts

How Rodtang Jitmuangnon repaid the family that gave him his big break

Twenty-one-year-old star is ready to unleash his brand of Muay Thai excellence in ONE Super Series



ONE Championship

Two-time Omnoi Stadium Muay Thai Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon arrives in ONE Championship as a Muay Thai star, and the 21-year-old plans on taking his career to a new level of greatness in ONE Super Series.

Rodtang will take on two-time W5 World Champion Sergio “Samurai” Wielzen at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES on Saturday, 22 September in Jakarta.

And the Thai star is excited to showcase his skills on the big stage on his ONE Super Series debut.

Rodtang’s Muay Thai career started when he was just eight years of age, when he won his debut at a temple fair in one of Southern Thailand’s small villages. After that victory, he embarked on a quickfire winning streak as he won his first nine bouts.

“I was hooked,” he recalls.

“I knew right away I wanted to pursue Muay Thai full-time.”

Living in humble surroundings, with a family that struggled to make ends meet, Rodtang decided to help his parents by earning as much as he could through his Muay Thai endeavours. It led to him moving to Bangkok, where earning opportunities in the ring were more readily available.

And while in the capital he was spotted by the famed Jitmuangnon Gym in Northern Bangkok. Rodtang joined the team and started to work on his craft.

But the distance from home, plus the demanding training regimen at the gym, left Rodtang doubting his decision. And when his form in the ring started to drop off, he contemplated heading home.

“I had lost quite a few fights in a row,” he admits.

“I had no money and no motivation.”

Thankfully, one man – gym owner Huan Jitmuangnon – saw through the bad times and kept his faith in Rodtang.

“It was Mr. Huan who got me motivated to train again,” Rodtang admits.

Reinvigorated by the support of the gym’s father figure, Rodtang found form and surged all the way to two Omnoi Stadium Championships.

But then Rodtang was struck by tragedy with the news of Huan’s death.

It hit his team – and the Muay Thai community – hard, but Rodtang stepped up and helped Huan’s widowed wife Mare Ae to run the gym and keep it afloat.

“I was there at her side every day until she got strong again,” he says.

“Now, she manages the fighters, and helped me get this opportunity with ONE Championship.”

With the team now closer than ever, Jitmuangnon Gym is going from strength to strength, with Rodtang set to make his debut in ONE Super Series.

And as well as helping get his gym back on its feet, he’s also been able to use his successes to help support his family.

And with 300 career bouts under his belt at the age of just 21, his best years are still ahead of him.

And victory over Wielzen on his ONE Super Series debut would see Rodtang lay a marker down and show the world that he is truly one of the greats.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK's national media covering major sporting events including UFC world title fights, Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Grand National and the FA Cup Final.


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