Features

Having Conquered Muay Thai And Poverty, Sagetdao Petpayathai Eyes ONE Gold

August 23, 2017

Sagetdao “Deadly Star” Petpayathai is already off to a solid start in his ONE Championship career.

Nearly six months after his successful professional cage debut, the Singapore-based Thai will return to the cage on Saturday, 2 September. He will clash with Egypt’s Mahmoud “El Deep” Mohamed (4-4-1) in a featherweight showdown at ONE: CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI, which broadcasts from the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in China.

This match is just the next logical step towards Petpayathai’s newfound dream.

“As with most martial artists, the ultimate goal is to go for a championship belt and get a title,” the 31-year-old states. “It is no different for me.”

That may seem like a lofty goal to the uninitiated, but do not be fooled by the Thai’s 1-0 record. Although he is new to the cage, he is a legend in the ring. He has participated in more than 200 professional Muay Thai bouts, captured the discipline’s most coveted titles on multiple occasions, and is one of the most elite strikers in the world.

The story of “Deadly Star” begins in the Northeast Thailand province of Maha Sarakhan. At the tender age of 7, the young boy fell in love with Muay Thai after watching it on local television. He soon convinced his uncle to allow him to train, and the rest, they say, is history.

Despite the thrill of competition, there was something else that forced him to seek out an early professional career in the ring – he had to work to help his family. With employment prospects limited due to his age, a young Petpayathai was not willing to wait until he got older to help his mother and two siblings get out of poverty.

“As a child, it was the only way I could get some money,” he says. “It was also something I liked, and it was a fun challenge. I saw it as a way to help better my life and future. It also brought honor to me and my family.”

With the weight of the world on his little shoulders, Petpayathai continued his ascendance on the Muay Thai scene. Every match meant something, and winning brought him closer to the ultimate goal of a better life for his household.

Clearly, failure was far from an option, despite the immense difficulty and suffering he had to endure.

“Quitting did not cross my mind. As soon as I won and made money, the pleasure and fulfilment that it gave me trumped everything. That satisfaction of being able to play my part helped me stick with Muay Thai.”

Although he experienced a tremendous amount of success, “Deadly Star” encountered resistance from an unlikely source: his mother. The matriarch of the household initially disapproved of her son’s method of paying the bills. After all, no parent wants to see their child getting hurt.

In fact, Petpayathai estimates it took nearly 50 contests to change his mother’s mind. After making her peace with the thought of her child competing in the ring, she began attending his matches – but not really.

“She would come to the matches, but would not actually watch,” he explains. “She would come to the stadium and stand outside, and ask people how the match went once it was over.” Evidently, she still could not bring herself to see her son get hit, but wanted to show her support anyway.

After seeing how his mother was going out of her way to support him, Petpayathai was nearly unstoppable. With each win, he was able to bring his family closer to the life he felt they deserved. And with more than 200 career victories to his credit, not only did his family escape poverty, he earned enough to put his sister through university.

“Bit by bit, I could see things getting better,” he says, proudly.

Those wins also brought him to the pinnacle of Muay Thai. He claimed every major accolade possible, including four Lumpinee World Championships, the WBC Muay Thai World Championship, and a Rajadamnern World Championship.

After accomplishing all he could in the ring, “Deadly Star” hung up his gloves, and moved to Singapore to join the famed Evolve MMA to teach. That is where he came to know of ONE Championship, and soon, his thirst for glory was renewed.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Muay Thai legend and former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, he decided to embark on a new challenge.

Petpayathai took the first step towards his new goal this past March, going up against Malaysia’s Kelvin “Ice Man” Ong (1-1) in his debut at ONE: WARRIOR KINGDOM. Competing in front of his countrymen in his home country of Thailand, he used his world-class striking to deliver a first round TKO.

Now, he faces a stiffer challenge in Mohamed on Saturday, 2 September. The 38-year-old is a member of the aptly-named Egyptian Top Team, and is armed with a fair amount of veteran cage experience. What’s more, three of his victories have come by submission, which could be Petpayathai’s Achilles heel.

“Deadly Star” is a lifelong competitor, and he is eager to find out just how much he has grown in the past six months. “I am looking forward to going into the cage and testing myself,” he says. “I never underestimate any of my opponents, and I am bringing my all.”

Petpayathai has defeated poverty, the best in Muay Thai, and now he is ready to beat Mohamed, as well as anyone else who gets in his way of acquiring another championship belt.

Shanghai | 2 September | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | PPV: Official Livestream at oneppv.com