With over 250 professional bouts under his belt, Muay Thai icon Tukkatatong Petpayathai is undoubtedly one of the best in the world in his chosen craft, and he has his father to thank for introducing him into that world.
Growing up in the quiet province of Buriram, Thailand, Tukkatatong shared that things were pretty simple growing up.
“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,” he said in an interview with ONE Championship’s official website (ONEFC.com)
Tukkatatong’s father, who was a local government representative, was a fan of the discipline famously known as “The art of eight limbs,” and soon, it became more than just something that he would watch on the television.
“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,” Tukkatatong shared. “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.”
It wasn’t long before Tukkatatong decided to dedicate himself to the Thai martial art, and by age ten, he was already competing.
Eventually, Tukkatatong decided to make the jump to the big city to further progress as a martial artist.
“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,” he disclosed.
As all dedicated martial artists do, Tukkatatong found success and exceedingly bountiful.
It was not all smooth sailing for the 30-year old Thai kickboxer as he ran into some tough times that ultimately forced him to make competing in Muay Thai his career.
Up for re-election back in Buriram, Tukkatatong’s father ended up spending a lot of money for what would turn out to be a failed bid.
The campaign left Tukkatatong and his family penniless.
“The hardest time of my life was when my family lost all our money,” he recalled. “My dad was up for re-election for the local government. He spent a lot of money on his campaign, but he lost the election. We were left penniless. It was extremely difficult for everyone.”
Tukkatatong had gone back home to Buriram to ponder his future as a competitor, but with his family’s financial situation, it was clear what he had to do.
“Once my family went bankrupt, I decided I had to return to fight and help the family out with money,” he said.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Tukkatatong would go on to become a two-time Channel 7 Muay Thai Champion, a North East Thailand Champion, and an Andaman League Tournament Champion.
“I am most proud of my Channel 7 Stadium belts,” he stated. “My proudest win would be when I beat Ninmongkon, as he was a top fighter.”
At ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR in Yangon, Myanmar last June, Tukkatatong made his debut on what he calls the biggest stage he has been on, ONE Championship’s ONE Super Series.
In his promotional debut, Tukkatatong defeated French striker Mehdi “Diamond Heart” Zatout via unanimous decision.
“ONE Championship is the biggest stage I have ever fought on,” he proudly expressed. “There are so many people following ONE around the world.”
If it was not for his perseverance and will, chances are Tukkatatong would not have even made it to icon status in Thailand.
Once again, he has his father to thank for showing him what it means to not give up.
“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,” he stressed.
At ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON on Saturday, 8 September, Tukkatatong will once more try to overcome another challenge as he faces former Lion Fight Lightweight World Champion Ognjen Topic in a ONE Super Series bantamweight Muay Thai contest.
Currently based in Singapore and working as an instructor at Evolve MMA, Tukkatatong is motivated by the success that his colleagues have attained on the ONE Championship stage.
“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,” he declared.