This Friday, 31 July, Petchdam "The Baby Shark" Petchyindee Academy will challenge Rodtang "The Iron Man" Jitmuangnon for the latter's ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title at ONE: NO SURRENDER in Bangkok, Thailand.
Although he's made a career for himself at the fabled Petchyindee Academy in Thailand's capital city, there was a time when Petchdam had to make do with just the basics in rural Thailand.
"My dad was the one who trained me even though he never trained Muay Thai, so it was not effective," Petchdam said.
"When I was training alone in my house, there was no proper ring. There was no equipment, only two pairs of boxing gloves."
The father-son team made it happen, however, and shortly after Petchdam put on a pair of gloves, he found himself competing in local events.
"My first bout was when my dad took me for the dual trial in the neighborhood," Petchdam said. "He asked me if I wanted to join and I said, 'Yes.'"
"The Baby Shark" showed the heart that he is known for today, but with the lack of proper equipment and high-level coaching, it was hard to earn victories back then. Soon thereafter, his father enlisted him in a local camp.
"My dad got me in at the Sit Ood Piboon gym near the house to get proper training with professionals," he continued. "They taught me the right techniques and there were many training buddies as well."
The experience was like night and day. Petchdam now had the right trainers and equipment, and he soon felt himself progressing in "the art of eight limbs."
He did, however, have other obligations, and it seemed those commitments would forever pull the young Thai away from the sport he loved.
"When I was in seventh grade, I had to go to school and train Muay Thai," Petchdam said.
"I had to wake up at 5 a.m. [for training], and I had to finish training before 7:30 a.m. in order to get ready and go to school. I had to be at school exactly by 8 a.m. I could rarely make it on time, and I always got punished for being late.
"I would get really tired and often dozed off at school. Some days, I felt too tired and didn't want to go to the classes. I got fed up for being punished too often. It was exhausting [trying to manage my] training and studying.
"Since it was too tiring for me, my dad made me choose one thing I really wanted to do – either study or do Muay Thai. So, I told him I wanted to pause Muay Thai and finish secondary school."
But the urge to compete was just too much for "The Baby Shark." Thinking considerably about the future he wanted, he decided to pursue the life he originally envisioned for himself.
"I told my dad I wanted to go back to Muay Thai," he said.
"My dad took me to see the owner of Sit Odd Piboon, the first camp that I trained with. But they sent me over to Petchyindee Academy."
The rest was history.
The young Thai from the province packed his bags for the big city to chase a dream he and his father had since he was a young boy, and he never looked back – but he did make his father one promise.
"[I said], 'If I don't get any championship titles or I am not famous, I won't come back," he recalled.
Since then, the former ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Champion and multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion has returned home often.
ONE Championship returns to live action for the first time in five months with ONE: NO SURRENDER, a closed-door, audience-free card set for next Friday, 31 July, in Bangkok, Thailand. Catch the event live and for free by downloading the ONE Super App.Published 27 Jul 2020, 15:30 IST