ONE Super Series bantamweight athlete Hiroaki Suzuki had always known it, held the thought close to him through all of the challenges, all of the trials and tribulations that life threw his way.
He was destined to become a martial artist, and only a martial artist.
It was a dream that lived inside the Japanese athlete from a young age, when he first discovered the joys of Karate.
His commitment to his craft ran so deep that he decided to move out of home at a young age and make the sport the centre of his existence.
“At the age of 15 I left home and started living in a karate school,” Suzuki recalled.
“I decided not to go to high school and I became an apprentice. I decided in my heart that Id make a life with karate.”
That kind of revelation is fraught with danger in Japanese society, where such a high premium is
placed on the value and importance of a quality education and career path.
Predictably, his parents were staunchly opposed to the unconventional route their son had chosen, but Suzuki remain undeterred.
Despite their insistence he return to high school, Suzuki kept firmly focused on his goal, enduring some trying times as he lived a spartan existence at the Karate school.
“My bed was in the storage room and there was no shower or heating. I slept there even if it was a cold winter,” Suzuki explains.
“I only took a shower twice a week and I would wash myself with cold water outside.”
Eventually – and with a huge amount of reluctance – lack of income and mounting debt forced Suzuki back home into the workforce.
But his desire burned too strongly. Suzuki found a Shoot boxing gym to train at while he worked, and began going from strength to strength.
All that sacrifice ultimately paid off, and Suzuki made his way into the realm of professional martial arts. Now he’s preparing to take on Thailand’s Nong-O Gaiyanghadao for the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Championship at ONE: Warriors of Light in Bangkok on May 10.
The 34-year-old has well and truly achieved his dream, but he’s not done yet. He’s coming to the Thai capital to shock the local hero.
“There is no competitor without weakness,” Suzuki said. “I can’t tell you which attacks I will use, but I will aim for a knockout.”