Outside the ring, Muangthai P.K. Saenchaimuaythaigym is one of the most unassuming members of the ONE Super Series roster.
The 24-year-old known as the “Elbow Zombie” recently hooked up with ONE Championship to join its formidable lineup of elite strikers, and is set to make his debut against Panicos Yusuf in a Muay Thai bantamweight match-up at ONE: HEART OF THE LION in Singapore on 9 November.
The Thai star’s first appearance on the big stage is the culmination of many years of hard work as he grew from a young boy living in a wooden stilt house to competing under the lights in one of the most spectacular arenas in Asia.
Muangthai grew up in the Northeast region of Thailand known as Isaan, where his parents worked menial labour jobs and grew rice.
Life was simple, but tough. Muangthai and his brother often collected rainwater and went fishing to help provide meals for the family. But despite his humble upbringing, he says he enjoyed his childhood.
“We would go play soccer after helping out my parents,” he says.
“We had lots of free time to explore and get lost in nature.”
Muangthai’s desire to compete in Muay Thai started when he watched his brother give the sport a try himself. The pair then trained at a gym ran by their father, who loved the sport, even though he had no competitive experience of his own.
Muangthai started training at the age of 7 and entered competitions not long after. He lost his opening bout, but was determined to continue on his new-found path.
“I made 150 Baht in my first fight, and knew right away I wanted to do it again,” he says.
Years later, his father, spotting Muangthai’s potential, sent his 15-year-old son to Bangkok in search of bigger paydays and better opportunities.
He started out at Sor. Boonjiam then moved to P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym, where he trains to this day.
His victories in Muay Thai were for more than sporting kudos. Muangthai’s aims were to help provide for his family, who lost their livelihoods after a flood devastated their crops.
Muangthai used the proceeds earned from battles in the Muay Thai ring to help his family out of debt and, driven by that determination, he eventually compiled a Muay Thai record of 195-40-4 and helped give his family a better life.
“My life has improved so much since coming to P.K.Saenchaimuaythaigym,” he explains.
“I’ve gotten my family out of debt, and we are now able to save money and even build our own assets.”
Now a three-division Muay Thai champion, Muangthai captured the Lumpinee Stadium 108-pound World Title, the Channel 7 Stadium 130-pound World Title and the Thailand Championship at 135 pounds.
With a host of stadium titles under his belt, Muangthai arrives in ONE Super Series looking to take his career to the next level.
“I want to make a name for myself in ONE Championship. My dream is to become a multi-discipline champion with the promotion,” he says.