Singtongnoi Por Telakin has won a string of titles, but his toughest battle took place outside the ring.
A true great of Muay Thai, he returns to action at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS, this Friday, 18 May from Singapore Indoor Stadium. However, just a short time ago, it seemed like that would not have been possible
A routine visit to the doctor with what the Lumpinee Stadium World Championship and WMC Muay Thai World Champion thought was a minor ear complaint ended with him being told the crushing news that he may have cancer.
A two-centimetre long cancerous tumour was discovered in his nasal cavity and sent his life into a tailspin.
“After the check-up, the doctor had me wait in the waiting room for a while,” the 37-year-old remembers.
“When the doctor called me back, he spoke to me in English, which I could not really understand.
“They translated it on my phone, and I read, ‘There is a high chance that you have cancer.’ I was stunned. I could not believe it. I asked, ‘Do I really have cancer?’ I started to cry. I was in disbelief.”
Singtongnoi was enjoying life working as an instructor at Evolve MMA in Singapore, but the news of his illness sent everything into disarray as he started to fear for his life.
“From having a bright, perfect future with many plans, as soon as the doctor told me I had cancer, they all disappeared. I thought I was going to die for sure,” he admits.
“The first thing I thought about was my family and kids. I was worried about their future. If I was dead, who was going to look after them? They would not have a father to look after them and take care of them.”
Thankfully for Singtongnoi, he had ONE Championship Chairman and CEO, Chatri Sityodtong in his corner.
He pledged to cover all the costs of Singtongnoi’s medical bills, and assured him that he’d make sure his family were looked after should the worst happen.
“Chatri told me not to worry about anything and purely focus on fighting the cancer. He told me that he would take care of my family and kids if anything happened to me. This made me very relieved,” he says.
“Once I started the treatment, I was not really able to eat. I lost about five kilograms. I did not have the energy to do anything. All I could do was sleep.
“There were points during my treatment that I wanted to quit,” he says. “But what made me fight was thinking about my children’s future and the people that I loved. I could not quit, as I had to fight for them.”
After 36 sessions of radiation therapy and seven sessions of chemotherapy, he left treatment and returned home, worried about whether the intensive treatment had done its job fully.
Then, he received the news that he was cancer-free. It gave Singtongnoi a new lease on life, and he resolved to live that life to the fullest.
“What I learned from having cancer is that life is valuable, and that you should not take it for granted,” he explains.
“It is important to love yourself and take care of your loved ones, as you do not know when you will die.”
Part of his newfound approach sees him make his competitive return, as part of ONE Super Series. He will take on WBC Muay Thai Super Bantamweight World Champion Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri in a flyweight Muay Thai contest
After taking on and beating as intimidating an opponent as anyone could ever face, he’ll head into the contest with a clear mind and a mindset that has prepared him for anything.
“I learned that the most important thing is to have a fighting spirit,” he declares.