Muay Thai legend “The Hero” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex aims to get right back to the winner’s circle when he squares off with Jamal “Kherow” Yusupov at ONE: AGE OF DRAGONS, set for the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China on 16 November.
Before he steps into the ONE Championship ring once more, the 34-year-old veteran looks back on a long and glorious career, and how it all started.
It turns out, Yodsanklai’s own mother, after having witnessed him often getting into fistfights with his brother, Yodkangwan, had pushed the siblings towards taking up the ancient Thai martial art of Muay Thai.
“When I was young before I became a Muay Thai athlete, I fought a lot with my brother,” Fairtex said.
“We would fight eight-or-nine times a week. I do not know why, but we were like Thor and Loki. There was a teacher in school who saw me fighting with my brother a lot. He thought that we should train Muay Thai, so he asked my mom if she wanted us to train Muay Thai. She said, ‘Okay.’ So that’s how we started.”
He was a natural. “The Hero” then went on to make a profession out of his passion.
His amazing display of skills led him to win three Lumpinee Stadium World Championships, two Lion Fight World Championships, two WMC World Championships, and a WBC World Title, among many other accolades.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Thai warrior. Like all great warriors, Yodsanklai experienced his fair share of heartbreaking losses. But his mother was once again there to help teach him the lessons he needed to learn.
“In my first-ever bout, I was nervous. Extremely nervous,” Fairtex said.
“I did not know what to do or how it would go. I lost that first bout. I was about eight years old. When I lost, I was not sad. My mom would comfort me by saying, ‘There are wins and losses in sports. It is okay to lose.’”
“Even though I lost, I still developed a passion for competition. I thought that I was born to be an athlete. I decided to continue as a Muay Thai athlete because I liked it. My mom also liked it,” he added.
With every match won, he gained more faith in his capabilities as a Muay Thai athlete. After taking the lessons his mother taught him, applying it to his trade, Yodsanklai’s path to greatness was set.
“I only realized that I was very good at Muay Thai and had the skills to succeed after my fifth bout,” Fairtex said.
“I felt like I had gotten a lot better. I fought in my provinces and won championships in Thailand such as the Mahasarakham Provincial Championship, Saraburi Provincial Championship, and Champion of the South.
“All the championship titles I won made me confident. I really focused and worked hard in order to follow in the footsteps of Lumpinee Stadium World Champions.