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Nong-O Gaiyanghadao continues to compete for his family

Muay Thai legend competes for his family, not for paycheques

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Stev Bonhage / ONE Championship

Nong-O Gaiyanghadao doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. He completes simply to make his family proud.

“I did not really have an idol growing up, the 31-year-old Muay Thai star told ONE Championship.

“There were many athletes I admired and respected, but not just one that I would consider my idol,” he says.

“Being known as the best is not too important to me. Yes, I liked watching many different athletes like Somluck Kamsing, Samart Payakaroon, and Kaensak Sor Ploenjit, among others. I would spend a lot of time watching their bouts, and studying them. But being greater than they were is not something that pushed me to be the best I can be. It has always been family.”

Like many martial artists from the region, Nong-O took up Muay Thai as a way of helping earn money to help his family. He earned just 100 baht ($3.20) for his first bout, and immediately gave the money to his grandmother.

But despite earning only a tiny purse for his debut bout, it showed that he could earn money from competing in the ring, and he dedicated himself to compete as often as he could to bring money to the family.

“I started competing in Muay Thai to help my family get out of poverty,” he explained.

“I grew up very poor, and I saw Muay Thai as something that would help give me a brighter future. I continue to compete to give my family the best future possible.

“My family are my biggest motivation. They have supported me since the very beginning,” Gaiyanghadao explains. “My mom would go to all of my bouts. My close friends are also a big support. I am lucky to have these people in my life.”

With a career record of 255-54-1, four Lumpinee Stadium World Titles, two Thailand national titles, and a Rajadamnern Stadium World title under his belt, Gaiyanghadao is a legend of the Muay Thai ring, and he’ll bring his striking skills to ONE Championship when he competes against two-time WBC Muay Thai World Champion Fabio Pinca at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai bout.

Having accomplished virtually everything in the sport, it would be easy for Gaiyanghadao to hang up his gloves, happy with his career. But he wants to continue to provide for the people that matter most in his life, his family.

“I believe a great martial artist is someone who knows his responsibilities – someone who is disciplined, and can stick to a schedule and work hard,” he said.

“Throughout my career, it has always been my family that drove me and inspired me. They still do. Doing my best to give them a bright future is what has motivated me from the start. If you listen to your teachers and train hard, you can become as great as you wish to be.”

Interview by ONE Championship. Story by Simon Head.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. News Editor: ONE Championship. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. International MMA Reporter: The Fight Nation. Contributor: MMAjunkie.

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