Indonesia has always been a hotbed for martial arts in Southeast Asia, and the country is starting to produce some excellent athletes. After all, ONE Championship has regularly held blockbuster shows in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, ever since the organization’s second-ever show in 2012.
What’s more, world-class gyms the likes of Jakarta Muay Thai & MMA and Bali MMA have emerged, producing top talents that have been making a name for themselves on the global stage.
Here are five elite Indonesian martial artists that you absolutely have to know about.
One of the hottest prospects ever produced in Indonesia, 30-year-old Stefer Rahardian overcame a life filled with hardship growing up, and accompanied a friend to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class in 2008 just to see what it was about. He has been hooked on the “gentle art” ever since, winning multiple grappling tournaments, and even received his brown belt under Carlson Gracie.
An unfortunate leg injury in 2013 delayed his ONE Championship debut until 2016, but once he stepped inside the cage, he demolished the competition. Now holding a perfect 6-0 record, the ONE Jakarta Flyweight Tournament Champion 2016 is eagerly anticipating his next challenge at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY against Cambodia’s Sim Bunsrun.
“The Terminator” Sunoto
Sunoto was destined for martial arts success. While growing up in Central Java, he tried his hand, and foot, at many different disciplines — including taekwondo, wushu, and traditional Japanese jiujitsu. Eventually, he would become the WKF Indonesian Champion.
“The Terminator” is a master of many disciplines and, after discovering mixed martial arts via his manager Adri Kumara, he decided to see how his skills compared against the best martial artists in the world. The 32-year-old has since made his mark in ONE Championship with an impressive 6-3 record, and will now face Thai Rithy in his next challenge at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY.
Adrian “Papua Badboy” Matheis
Adrian Matheis has become a symbol of survival. In the late 90s, when political upheaval and religious violence was causing a rift within the country, his mother helped the family flee from the Maluku Islands to nearby Papua, where they started anew.
Despite falling into delinquency in his teenage years, “Papua Badboy,” as he would be called, found calm in martial arts. He studied yusikaindo, and later rounded out his game under national pioneer Zuli Silawanto at the Tigershark Fighting Academy in Jakarta.
Ever since capturing the ONE Indonesia Strawweight Tournament Championship last year, the 24-year-old has fallen on hard times, most recently losing to former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke. But Matheis is a proven survivor, and expects to bounce back in his comeback bout against Phat Soda at ONE: TOTAL VICTORY.
Anthony Engelen completely altered the course of his life. The 32-year-old known as “The Archangel” left the Netherlands in his 20s to study and work in Jakarta, Indonesia, where his father is from. But after seeing a mixed martial arts event in 2008, Engelen, who already had a kickboxing background, was motivated to leave his job and train full-time with the intention of competing professionally.
The Dutch-Indonesian followed his newfound dream and turned it into a reality. Since debuting in 2013, the former tea tester has garnered a respectable 6-2 professional record. His most recent win happened earlier this February, when he knocked out Malaysian pioneer A.J. Lias Mansor at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER in Jakarta to add to his growing highlight reel.
Vincent Latoel has truly dedicated his life to martial arts. The Golden Glory veteran has competed in the sport ever since 2001, and his talents have taken him all over the world. But in 2009, he experienced some personal issues, and vowed not to return to the cage unless there was an opportunity worthwhile enough to stoke his competitive fire.
Four years later, that spark was reignited. ONE Championship afforded him the opportunity to display his skills in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia. Though raised in the Netherlands, the 38-year-old has strong roots in the country, as he is an ethnic Moluccan born to Indonesian parents.
He could not pass up this opportunity, and the man known as “Magnivincent” has quickly become a fan-favorite. Most recently, Latoel defeated tough Filipino veteran Vaughn Donayre earlier this year in Jakarta, proving that he is still a force to be reckoned with.