Fabrice Fairtex Delannon has traveled all around the world in his quest to become its greatest Muay Thai competitor, and on Saturday, 23 June, he will debut on the global stage for martial arts.
The French Guianese is scheduled to face two-division Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, which takes place at the Studio City Event Center in Macau.
Although Delannon had a relatively late introduction to the “art of eight limbs,” he has already won three MAX Muay Thai World Championships. Now, he hopes to achieve success on the biggest stage in martial arts, as he tests his skills among the world’s best strikers in ONE Super Series.
Before he makes his debut, get to know a little bit more about the man known as “The Funky Drummer.”
A Worldly Upbringing
Delannon spent his childhood on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
He was initially raised in French Guiana in South America – a coastal territory in the north of the continent, known for its dense forests and tropical climate.
Later, he, his mother, and his sister moved to the suburbs of Paris, France, where everything was much different.
Despite an introduction to a completely new environment and different cultures, “The Funky Drummer” made friends easily and surrounded himself with people from contrasting backgrounds.
“I had all types of friends – poor friends, rich friends, friends from bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods,” he says. “There was everything – all types of influences on me.”
Delannon continued to move back and forth across continents, but despite the constant movement, he was able to settle wherever he was.
He was a good student at school, and quite popular, but athletics was at the forefront of his mind rather than his studies.
Living The Dream
Delannon started chasing his dream at the age of 12. Inspired by boxing greats such as Roy Jones Jr. and Mike Tyson, he laced up the gloves as an amateur.
Boxing gave him strength – physically and mentally. The French Guianese athlete equipped himself with self-defense skills, but also gained confidence from his training. As a result, he was in the gym every day – both before and after school – doing what he loved.
Eventually, he wanted to test his skills in the ring. His first bout came when he was just 14, and though he did not get the victory, he won the respect of his peers.
“It was in [French] Guiana, in front of two or three thousand people,” he remembers.
“I faced a guy much bigger than me. I finished with a draw, but everybody told me, ‘Wow, you had a great contest with him.’
“I was happy. To have the support of my team, my friends, and my neighborhood, that was good.”
Unfortunately, health problems took Delannon away from the squared circle. He tried his hand at other sports, but nothing could compare to martial arts. The rush that it gave him, and the hard, physical training he received, could not be fulfilled elsewhere.
While living in France at the age of 22, he stumbled upon Muay Thai, and fell in love with its dynamic style. “The Funky Drummer” immersed himself in the “art of eight limbs,” but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to go to the source to become the best possible Nak Muay he could be.
“Since I was young, I always loved martial arts. It excited me,” he reveals. “I always dreamed about going to Asia and practicing, like the warriors I admired in my head.”
Delannon moved to Thailand in 2007, and lived there for two years. He returned in 2013, and now competes out of the world-famous Fairtex Gym in Pattaya.
Battling To Breathe
As if competitive martial arts didn’t pose enough of a challenge, Delannon had to persevere through recurring issues with his health during his Muay Thai career.
“I did have some hard times,” he reveals. “I had a very bad respiratory problem – an infection in my lung, and a problem with my stomach, too.
“Despite all that, I took some fights when I was literally sick. The doctor told me I was crazy to fight through it.
“I suffered in the ring and pushed my limits. There was a time in the final of the French Championships where I had one or two breaths max, and I was just happy to survive. It was impossible to breathe, but I made it to the end.”
Though “The Funky Drummer” showed tremendous character to make it to the ring on those occasions, he had to cancel many bouts, too. Though he is now approaching his 65th professional contest, he believes he should have had more than 100.
He also believes he would not have suffered as many defeats.
“I am not a bad loser. If I lose, I am happy to take it, but now I know I should not have taken those bouts, for sure,” he says
However, when the French Guianese athlete has been able to perform to the best of his capabilities, he has been outstanding.
A World Title Odyssey
After overcoming his respiratory illness, and then an eye injury which kept him out of action for a year, Delannon was determined to become better than ever.
Even when he was not able to make a living by competing, “The Funky Drummer” stayed in Thailand, and used the time to improve as a martial artist.
When he returned to action with an improved set of skills, he defeated high-level opposition to become a three-time MAX Muay Thai World Champion in two different weight classes.
“I knew I had to stay,” he says. “I had to keep training, and then I came to MAX and won the belts, so the answer is to keep going and to never give up.”
Although the world titles validated his decision to stay in “The Land Of Smiles” and elevated his status as one of Muay Thai’s elite, he does not define his success according to those achievements. The 36-year-old is simply satisfied by the life he leads.
“I left everything to live my dream. I am living it, and I am happy,” he says. “Now I just want to take on the top fighters in the world in ONE Championship, and do my best.”
“The Funky Drummer” begins his ONE Super Series journey on 23 June. He faces a tough challenge in Petchmorrakot at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, and will continue to enjoy every moment.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast