When ONE welterweight contender Agilan Thani thinks back to his childhood, he can scarcely believe where the winding path of life has taken him, and understandably so.
Growing up as an overweight kid who was relentlessly bullied for his size in his native Malaysia, Thani would never have dreamed of an existence as a professional martial artist.
While he always enjoyed sports, Thani was hampered by his weight but was still never genuinely motivated to attempt to change.
“When I was young I was fat but I was still active. I loved sports at school and everything
I was bullied a lot, because when I was fat people just picked on me,” said Thani.
“I never really cared about losing weight or anything.”
It wasn’t until he discovered martial arts that a genuine desire to change was ignited inside him – his steadfast determination to compete empowered him to a new and improved version of himself.
Competing against others in his weight class would’ve put him at an instant disadvantage. Thani knew what he had to do.
“When I started martial arts it became a big factor because I was very short and there was no way I was going to fight Heavyweight because those guys are going to be way bigger than me
“So I had to lose weight. My coach told me I had better find a way to diet and bring my weight down.”
Thani underwent a dramatic transformation both physically and mentally, and the catalyst for it all was martial arts.
The 23-year-old now leads a life completely dominated by martial arts, upskilling himself and others at Kuala Lumpur’s Monarchy MMA, where he prepared for his upcoming bout against Yoshihiro Akiyama at ONE: Legendary Quest in Shanghai on June 15.
It promises to be a blockbuster contest, as the eyes of the martial arts world will be focused on China for the Japanese-Korean’s highly anticipated promotional debut with ONE Championship.
The former world champion judoka is coming off a near-four year hiatus, but Thani is refusing to underestimate his opponent, full expecting to encounter the very best version of Akiyama.
“I’m definitely not taking him lightly. I’m ready for a crazy Akiyama, and I’m ready for chaos.”
In the event’s headline act at the Baoshan Arena, Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex will put her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Championship on the line against rising Australian Alma Juniku.