Andre “The Giant” Meunier (42-7) was overjoyed when he got the call to join ONE Super Series.
The Australian colossus has spent years competing around the globe at the highest levels of boxing and kickboxing, but on Saturday, 7 July, he will arrive on the greatest stage of his career.
Before Meunier enters China’s Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium for this titanic battle, get to know a little bit more about the heavy-handed striker.
A Rough Childhood
Meunier may be an imposing figure now, but during his childhood in Melbourne, Australia, he was much smaller. In fact, he was one of the smallest kids on the block.
Due to his diminutive stature, Meunier was bullied. He tried to defend himself, but he did not fare well against the bigger kids.
“It was a bit of a rough neighborhood. I was quite a small kid growing up, so I got picked on a fair bit,” the 42-year-old recalls.
“I always used to try and fight, but I was fighting Samoans and Thais, and I always used to get my [butt] handed to me. I would get beat up a little bit, but I used to always give it back.”
Also, the Aussie’s home life was far from idyllic. His family was in a constant state of turmoil, which resulted in even more volatility whenever he returned home from school.
“It was not a very good upbringing amongst my family,” he admits. “That kind of spurred it on, and I had a fire from that. Bullying was just the sort of thing that topped it off.”
After all the problems in his life, he was inspired to learn martial arts.
A Way Out Of Trouble
A tough childhood led Meunier to an even more turbulent adult life, including several brushes with law enforcement.
Thankfully, a friend convinced him to try boxing as a way to release some of his pent-up anger and frustration.
Just a few training sessions later, “The Giant” adapted his boxing to kickboxing, and this newfound passion kept him on the straight and narrow.
“I actually played basketball most of my life, and I got into a little bit of trouble,” he explains.
“To get out of trouble, I had a friend who was a boxer and an Australian champion. I started training with him a little bit, and from there, I met my trainer.
“He said, ‘Come down, and I will teach you how to kickbox.’ I learned how to kick, throw knees, and all sorts of other stuff.”
Meunier believes discovering martial arts – combined with the birth of his children – helped to turn his life around for good.
“My kids and fighting sort of made me the man I am, and it changed my path dramatically,” he says. “I was heading down the path of probably being in and out of jail, and not doing too well.”
A Mother’s Final Words
Meunier has never backed down from a challenge, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his life.
In 2009, the Australian encountered the toughest battle of his career. He stepped into the ring to face French super heavyweight kickboxer Patrice Quarteron in a world title bout, just days after losing his mother to cancer.
“I buried my mom, and a week later I was fighting for a title,” Meunier reveals.
“My mom just said, ‘Go on with it – do it,’ and then she passed. That was probably the hardest thing I ever experienced. I think I was beaten before I even got into the ring, because my mom was not there.”
Meunier was determined to fulfill his mother’s final request – no matter how much his performance might be compromised by his heartache.
“She said, ‘Whatever you do, please fight this fight no matter what happens – whether I go or not,’” he says.
A Globetrotting Adventure
With an extensive background in multiple combat sports, “The Giant” has held titles in several different organizations around the world.
Meunier’s primary sport has been kickboxing, which is where he has racked up the most gold during his career.
The Aussie is a four-time Kickboxing World Champion, but though his titles mean a lot to him, Meunier says two personal moments during his career are worth more to him than the gold.
“Going overseas and fighting in different countries is an accomplishment, because I never thought I would leave Australia,” he explains.
“Also, winning the fight four weeks before my mom passed – the last fight she got to see. I knocked a guy out who had like 200-something fights. That is another big accomplishment that I will always take with me.”
On 7 July, Meunier will compete overseas yet again. He faces A1WCC Kickboxing World Champion Ibrahim El Bouni in a ONE Super Series kickboxing bout, which will be contested at 105 kilograms, in China.
“The Giant” wants to make a strong first impression in his ONE Super Series premiere – which he plans to do by imposing his game and scoring the knockout.
“I want to make him fight my fight,” Meunier says.
“I do not want to give him a chance to get himself warm, ready, and get into his groove. If I get one strike on his chin, he is going to sleep. That is for sure. I guarantee that.”
Guangzhou | 7 July | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast