Ask ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong why he is so passionate about introducing martial arts and its core values to the world, and you’ll get the same answer over and over.
He wants to inspire others to do more with their lives.
Sityodtong recently revealed his motives for building ONE in a documentary called ‘The Chatri Sityodtong Story | Suffering, Sacrifice & Success’ on YouTube.
“I remember my first day at Sityodtong, the heavy bags were filled with sand, packed tight because our grandmaster, Kru Yodtong Senanan, really believed in strengthening the bones in the shin. So every kick, my shins, my feet, were just in unbelievable pain,” Sityodtong said. “And I remember thinking to myself that it was going to be impossible. I wanted to quit. It was the toughest training I’ve ever experienced my entire life, but the crazy thing is after the training, I never felt so alive.
“When I think back at my childhood, I think about how magical it was. I lived a genuinely blessed childhood with an incredible family, a lot of love. We came from a well-to-do family.”
Back then, things were pretty good in Sityodtong’s household. Then the Asian financial crisis hit, and his family lost everything overnight.
Abandoned by his father, and having nothing but a supportive mom, a Harvard acceptance letter, and some martial arts knowledge, Sityodtong went to the states to continue pursuing his dream.
“I’ve got to look for jobs, I’ve got to look for loans, so I taught Muay Thai. And so I created a spreadsheet and I calculated the bare minimum that I could spend was four dollars,” Sityodtong said.
“I would model out every single penny, literally every single penny I spent. If I beat that four dollars and let’s say I came in at $3.57, I would be ecstatic. So that four-dollar number is imprinted in my brain forever.”
Years later, he formed ONE Championship — an organization that celebrates Asian martial arts — and showed the world the values of respect, integrity, and honor with the help of its athletes.
Now it is the largest martial arts organization in the world, and Sityodtong could not feel more delighted — not because of how big it has grown since its inception in 2011, but because of how many people the promotion has inspired.
“At ONE Championship, our mission has always been from day one to unleash real-life superheroes who ignite the world with hope, strengths, dreams, and inspiration, because all of our heroes have gone through these incredible life stories — conquering poverty, tragedy, adversity to become World Champions on the global stage, on the world’s largest stage in martial arts,” Sityodtong said.
“That can inspire anybody — a street kid in Manila, a doctor to become the best doctor, a young woman in India to become a CEO. All over the world [people] can be inspired by these stories because it’s really about unleashing your greatness in life.”
And that was all part of the mission for Sityodtong.
When he finished business school at Harvard, he knew that he was not meant to be in Wall Street or in Silicon Valley; he was meant to start this martial arts revolution in Asia and leave a legacy that would inspire millions.
“You see I believe there are seeds of greatness in all of us. I don’t believe we were put on this Earth just to buy a house, a car, to have a mortgage, credit card bills,” Sityodtong said.
“No, I believe that we were all put on this Earth to unleash our greatness so that we may be able to give back whatever we receive. So that we can somehow leave this Earth better off than how we found it.”
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