ONE welterweight Agilan Thani’s astonishing journey from an overweight kid on the rough streets of Sentul, Kuala Lumpur to prodigious martial artist has been well documented.
Martial arts has made the kind of transformative impact on his life that goes above and beyond many of his contemporaries. It helped him overcome bullies and discover a sense of self-confidence that would ultimately propel him to the heights of the combat world.
But it’s also had an immeasurable effect on his overall outlook on life, as Thani admits that bout-by-bout, he’s improved as both a martial artist and a human being.
“Only when I fight I see how much I have grown, and since I’ve become a professional, I’ve seen a lot of growth in me,” said Thani.
And while the buzz that comes with having your hand raised in victory is a feeling that Thani says is unrivaled, it’s in defeat that he believes one can really profit.
“All of the winning and winning and then taking a loss helps me learn a lot about myself, but I’m still growing all the time. Learning about self as a person as well as an athlete, it’s one of the best parts of fighting,” said Thani.
Two consecutive losses – albeit against the division’s elite – after a string of victories have given Thani a new perspective on his approach, and he’s confident the gains he’s made since will put him on the path back to victory against Yoshihiro Akiyama at ONE: Legendary Quest in Shanghai on June 15.
The 43-year-old Akiyama’s pedigree as a world-class athlete is undeniable, but after almost four years away from competition, some degree of rust seems inevitable.
But Thani refuses to read too much into his opponent’s recent record. In preparation, the grappling specialist has been working hard at renowned Bali MMA to upskill – refining his already handy striking abilities to make himself a more rounded threat.
“I’ve been there for two weeks and coach Mike [Ikilei] has helped me out a lot, helping me believe in my striking. We’ve worked on a couple of things that can help me out in the fight.”
Thani and Akiyama will co-headline a blockbuster event at Baoshan Arena that also features a ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title bout between champion Stamp Fairtex and Australia’s Alma Juniku.