In Thailand, there is enormous pressure on children who aren’t fortunate enough to come from wealthy families to subsidize their parents. Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke knows all about this, he grew up in poverty, but the reigning ONE 115-pound champion has been able to make a much better life for his family thanks to his fighting career.
For some fighters, the best part about winning a title is being able to pose with the belt. But for Dejdamrong the win over Roy Doliguez, which saw him named Thailand’s first ever ONE Champion, meant much more.
“We never owned our own house, so I wanted to build a house for my parents so they could have an easier life. Now I am able to take care of my mother, she doesn’t have to work, and I also take care of my grandmother, who raised me. My wife and kids have a car and live in a house, and I am able to take care of my brother, who is disabled. I have made a new life for me and my family.”
Dejdamrong was already employed by Evolve MMA in Singapore, which is known for paying its fighters and trainers the highest wages in the industry. He’s also won five fights out of five for ONE Championship and his success has helped to ensure his children’s upbringing will be very different from his own,
“Life as a child was difficult because I stayed with my grandmother while my brothers and sisters and my parents had to go to another province to work. They would come home every four or five months and stay for two weeks before leaving again.”
While Dejdamrong might have mixed memories of growing up in Trang without his parents, this experience probably helped to turn him into one of Thailand’s top fighters. He decided to take up Muay Thai at a young age and went on to forge a highly successful career in the sport.
“I started Muay Thai when I was 9 years old because I saw it on TV and I wanted to try it. When I was 17 year old, I moved to Bangkok to train at the Lookbanyai camp. I was champion at Lumpinee twice at 105 pounds and once at 108 pounds, and also a champion at Siam Omnoi.”
Dejdamrong made his pro MMA debut in 2014 after just a few months training in the non-striking aspects of the sport. Winning six fights in quick succession, the 37-year-old has rapidly established himself a one of the biggest stars in the 115-pound division despite having initially called time on his competitive career eight years ago.
“I retired from Muay Thai in 2007, but I was then offered a fight in Japan, which I won. After that, I was offered a job as a trainer in Japan and I stayed here for five years teaching Muay Thai, but then my dad got ill and he was in the hospital, so I had to go back to Thailand to take care of him.”
Unfortunately, Dejdamrong’s father passed away a few weeks later and he found himself back in his hometown of Trang. However, a chance phone call from a former friend and teammate at Lookbanyai changed his life forever.
“I got a phone call from Saenghiran (Lookbanyai) asking me if I would like to go and work in Singapore as a Muay Thai instructor. I saw the Brazilians from Evolve MMA competing for ONE FC and I didn’t know what it was but I wanted to try it.”
Dejdamrong proved to be a fast learner, but he will need to show further improvement this Friday night when he faces Yago Bryan. The Brazilian is a Shooto South American 115-pound champion who trains out of Nova Uniao and holds a perfect professional record of 3-0.
It’s an imposing assignment for a fighter who turned 37 last week, but Dejdamrong is proud of what he has achieved in MMA and hopes that by continuing to win fights he can inspire other Thais to start studying the sport.
“I am proud to be the first Thai ONE FC champion and I hope many Thai people will start learning MMA.”