Indonesian star Stefer Rahardian has momentum behind him and is ready for the challenges at the top of ONE Championship’s strawweight division.
The Jakarta native has transformed his life through martial arts, turning from a poor office worker to one of the top contenders in a talent-stacked strawweight division.
Rahardian’s quest for glory has seen him take bold steps and make difficult decisions as he has progressed from promising prospect to bonafide contender.
Thankfully for Rahardian, he had the perfect source of inspiration in the form of his mother.
“My whole life has been about having courage, and having to summon courage,” says the 31-year-old.
“My childhood was tough. My brother died just after my father walked out. I saw my mother having to be brave to raise me and my sister on her own. That sets a high bar.
“She is my role model when it comes to courage. When I need to dig deep and face a challenge, I think of what my mom did.”
Rahardian was raised by his mother from the age of 10 when his parents split up. She raised Stefer, plus his other two siblings while also waiting tables at a Japanese restaurant in Jakarta’s business district.
She saved her earnings and was eventually able to buy a small house for her family in East Jakarta, and even managed to pay to send Rahardian to Catholic school so he could receive a better education than the local schools could offer.
While there, Rahardian, a Muslim, found himself the subject of the bullies’ attention. He eventually stood up to his tormentors, as a scuffle ensued. He was never bullied again.
But while he managed to overcome one issue, another soon appeared. His older brother Erwin died suddenly and, with the family struggling to pay the hospital bills, he felt compelled to step up and become the man of the house.
“As a man, I feel extra pressure to be even more courageous,” he says.
“I am the head of my family. I cannot run away. It is my responsibility, as a man, to have courage. If my mother can do it, then I should be able to do it, too.”
He learned about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and took up the art just as it was starting to take hold in Jakarta, but an ACL injury put him on the shelf before his athletic career could seriously take off.
With money too tight to pay for his injuries, he borrowed $3700 to have knee surgery then, when it was revealed that the operation was botched, he had to borrow even more for corrective surgery to put right the errors of the first operation.
When he returned to action, he resolved to keep moving forward continuously in his career, and has gone undefeated throughout his mixed martial arts career to date.
Now regarded as one of the very best athletes to come out of Indonesia and one of the most dangerous rising prospects in the ONE strawweight division, things are moving in the right direction for Rahardian.
And, after dealing with a plethora of tough times in his life, he has learned to head into his mixed martial arts contests with no fear as he puts his skills to the test against the best strawweights in the world.
“God put me in some tough situations when I was growing up,” he admits.
“I came from nothing, but because I got through all of that, I can face my opponents every single time. I expect my opponents to be the best.”
Rahardian’s latest test in ONE Championship sees him face Filipino veteran Rene “The Challenger” Catalan at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila on Friday, 27 July.
A victory would take his undefeated career to 10-0 and move him one big step closer to World Championship gold.