Yodcherry Sityodtong is all set to unveil her special brand of Muay Thai excellence to ONE Championship’s huge global audience.
The Thai teenager has become a superstar in the world of Muay Thai, and has the chance to become the first woman to win a ONE Super Series World Title when she takes on Kai Ting “Killer Bee” Chuang at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS on Saturday, 7 July in Guangzhou, China.
Born in Bangkok before moving to Pattaya, Yodcherry was raised by her father, and admits growing up as a tomboy as a result.
“Back when I was a kid, you have to understand that I grew up living with my dad,” she explains.
“That made me behave like a guy. I wasn’t a feminine, lady-like person.”
Her father played a major part in her start in martial arts, as he encouraged her to find a sport to play. She tried a host of different activities, but eventually settled on one that would turn her into a global icon.
“I tried golfing, taekwondo, everything – then, finally, Muay Thai,” she says.
“It’s something I can do well. He took me to train in Muay Thai, and as I kept training, he saw my potential.”
Muay Thai athletes typically start young, but Yodcherry’s beginnings in the discipline at the age of 6 was early, even by usual standards. Under the tutelage of the world-class coaching at Sityodtong gym, she progressed rapidly.
Despite her clear talent for the “art of eight limbs” Yodcherry didn’t harbour any ambitions to compete in the ring.
“I didn’t think about being a professional athlete back then. I just wanted to work out, but my dad liked Muay Thai a lot, so I became an athlete,” she explains.
Nonetheless, she eventually made her first foray into competitive Muay Thai, whereupon her arrival at the venue she was told she had to face a boy.
“I had no choice – I had to fight. I was already there,” she says.
She fought, and she won, kick-starting a professional career that has led all the way to the main event in ONE Championship this weekend in China.
Those early days were tough for Yodcherry, however. As a teenager, she had to fend for herself, after her father left when she was still in high school. She pursued her studies at school during the day, then waited tables in the evening.
“We lost all our money. We went down to zero, so my dad had to leave. I had to continue studying in Pattaya, but my dad needed time to think and he went into the monkhood,” she recalls.
“I had a pretty hard life, but I never looked at it that way. I always thought that things would get better tomorrow. I never felt demotivated. I never gave up.”
Now, aged 19, Yodcherry already has 100 Muay Thai bouts and multiple world titles under her belt. She now trains and competes as a full-time professional at Singapore’s Evolve MMA gym, and is set to compete on the biggest stage in martial arts.
At ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS, she has the chance to add the most prestigious title of her career to her résumé.
“[Being a champion] is really important to me. It’s like a test that challenges my capability,” she says.
“If I won, all the things I have done will finally pay off. I would be really proud of myself.”