Japanese kickboxing star Masaaki Noiri thought he wouldn’t succeed due to “lack of natural talent”

Photo Credit: ONE Championship
Photo Credit: ONE Championship

Japanese kickboxing star Masaaki Noiri never thought he would make it as far as he has in the world of combat sports.

On Friday, June 7, the two-time K-1 champion will step onto martial arts' biggest global stage when he makes his promotional debut at a loaded ONE 167 card inside the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. Standing across from him come fight night will be Thai legend Sitthichai Sitsonpeenong who looks to cling onto his spot as the No. 3 ranked contender in the featherweight kickboxing division.

Before making his way to the Circle, Noiri sat down with ONE Championship to look back on his illustrious career and how far he's come despite initially believing that he lacked any kind of natural talent for the sport.

"I didn't think I had any natural talent at all," Noiri said. "In my early matches, I even lost by ippon (full point) against a girl and cried after losing. There was a senior I looked up to at the same dojo, and I was able to stick with it for a long time because I admired him. That senior retired from kickboxing a few years ago."

Masaaki Noiri faces a tough test against eight-time champion Sitthichai

Though he may have struggled at the beginning, there is no denying that Masaaki Noiri is one of the world's greatest kickboxers. After all, he is one of the very few fighters to have won two different titles in K-1, claiming the promotion's World GP super light and welterweight world titles.

With hopes of adding 26 pounds of ONE Championship gold to his resume, the Nagoya, Japan native will have his work cut out for him when he meets Sitthichai, an eight-time kickboxing and Muay Thai world champion with 128 career victories to his credit.

After coming up short against three-time GLORY Kickboxing champion Marat Grigorian in his last outing, Sitthichai will be coming in hot and ready to bounce back at the expense of the Japanese newcomer.

Who leaves with a big win and a spot in the featherweight top five?

ONE Championship fans in the United States and Canada can watch ONE 167 live and for free via Amazon Prime Video in U.S. primetime on Friday, June 7.

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