ONE Championship striking master Petchdam Petchyindee Academy will be center stage when he defends his ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship against Ilias Ennahachi in the main event at ONE: Dreams of Gold in Bangkok on August 16.
The bout may be taking place in his native Thailand, but those bright lights in the capital seem a world away from his humble beginnings as a martial artist.
His impoverished upbringing as the son of farmers almost put paid to his aspirations of becoming a world-class athlete, until Petchdam saw that practicing Muay Thai may legitimately be a means to an end for his struggling family.
“I only went to primary school, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to high school. That’s why I started Muay Thai – I wanted to help my family financially,” Petchdam recalls.
“I was just a country boy from a poor family. I just wanted to help my parents.”
Initially, lack of resources or knowledge proved no obstacle for Petchdam and his father, who acted as his makeshift trainer despite having no real experience in the arts. That meant plenty of running and general cardio and not a whole lot of striking.
“He wasn’t a Muay Thai fighter so we mostly just ran. We had no understanding of Muay Thai at all,” Petchdam admits. “We didn’t have a punching bag, pads or gloves.”
The young Petchdam finally got the opportunity to don the gloves when he was alerted to a Muay Thai gym near his village, and the rest is history.
He threw himself into the competition, fighting three to four times a month as he rapidly upskilled and paved his way to becoming a world champion and helping his family out of poverty.
Now the next challenge awaits in the form of six-time kickboxing world champion Ilias Ennahachi. The rising Dutch-Moroccan prodigy has proven a force to be reckoned with resulting in his arrival at ONE, and at just 23 years old he is already the division’s number one contender.
“Baby Shark” put on a fantastic performance to beat Elias Mahmoudi in his last fight on home soil, and he’s calling on locals to come and help boost him to victory again at Impact Arena.
“I want to ask the Thai people to come and cheer for me once again. In my last fight, the support I received from Thai people helped me win.”