For ONE Welterweight World Champion Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam, martial arts did more than just save his life in times of danger.
Kadestam says he would not be where he is today, a two-time World Champion if he didn’t learn the lessons martial arts taught him as a kid. Growing up, Kadestam frequently got into a lot of trouble, and almost found himself living a life behind bars.
“I was unfocused and made a lot of bad decisions as a kid,” Kadestam said. “I was 14 when I spent a year-and-a-half in a youth prison. I tried to escape twice, and the last time, they caught me. I was sent to isolation.”
The hours Kadestam spent alone gave him time to reflect on his actions. It was then he realized that he did not want to walk a dark path and decided he wanted a better life. The Swedish striker discovered Muay Thai along with an acquaintance he made in juvenile prison. He decided to change his life for the better by living by the code of a true martial artist.
“That was when I said, ‘No, I cannot keep doing this,’” Kadestam said.
“Since I was already training, I heard about another Swedish guy. After he got out, he went to Thailand, and he became a professional martial artist. Even though I was locked up, I said, ‘I am going to do this. I am going to become a World Champion.’”
A decade later, Kadestam is grateful for the decision he made back then. Being a martial artist gave him a new perspective in life and a productive output for his overflowing energy.
“That was my dream, and I stuck to it,” Kadestam said. “I have been training six days a week, all year round for 10 years now. Training and martial arts are what is keeping me straight. I feel good, and I feel alive.”
Kadestam wishes to be a good example for everyone through his life story. Life was definitely hard for him growing up, but finding one’s passion and putting in the hard work rewards you later on in life, he believes.
“You have to find something that you really enjoy doing,” Kadestam said. “That can provide for you. But you do not necessarily need to chase money or fame. Just give 100 percent to something you love, and good things are going to happen.”