Sam-A Gaiyanghadao Still Chasing World Titles After 420 Bouts
ONE Championship’s Muay Thai superstar Sam-A Gaiyanghadao is a bonafide legend of the art.
Boasting a career record of 365-46-9, Sam-A is a multiple Lumpinee Stadium World Champion across two weight classes, and a former Lumpinee Stadium Fighter of the Year.
On Friday, 18 May, he could add another accolade to his list with the inaugural ONE Super Series Muay Thai Flyweight World Title when he takes on two-time W5 World Champion Sergio Wielzen at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS in his adopted home of Singapore.
Sam-A was raised in rural Thailand. Initially, it seemed he would follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a farmer, but he discovered Muay Thai, and his life goals changed instantly with one spur-of-the-moment decision.
“When I was 9, there was a festival in my hometown,” he says.
“There was a Muay Thai ring being set up next to the temple, and my uncle was in charge of organising the bouts.”
When his uncle addressed the crowd to ask if anyone was interested in competing against one of the younger martial artists, Sam-A didn’t hesitate, even though he had zero experience.
“The crowd was silent. I looked around and thought, ‘Why not me?’” he says.
“I told my uncle I wanted to compete. He looked at me and clucked his tongue, and reminded me that I had never competed before, ever.
“He obviously was not taking me seriously, but I was dead serious. My uncle knew that I would not take no for answer, so he sent me home to ask for my parents’ permission.
“I begged my parents, looking at them hopefully. They just looked at me and shook their heads.
“I started rolling on the ground and crying. After a few good minutes of crying and shouting, my parents relented. They knew there was no other way out.”
He competed, he won, and his passion for Muay Thai was born.
“After three rounds, nobody was more surprised than I was when the referee held up my hand – I had won the match,” he says.
“However, though my parents were happy about my win, they still were not sold on the idea of me becoming a Muay Thai competitor. I quickly signed on for my second match regardless, but unfortunately, I lost.”
Seeing their son’s single-minded determination to pursue his passion, they reluctantly agreed to let him compete, and eventually gave him their full support, including hiring a trainer to help sharpen his skills.
“Considering that we did not exactly come from a rich family, it meant a lot that my parents cared so much about my dreams,” he says.
“Instead of real boxing bags, we used old rice sacks that we filled with sand. I would train every day after school. Muay Thai became my life.
“Martial arts has changed my life for the better, and I hope to be able to inspire everyone who will be watching me.”
In that regard, little has changed. Aged 34, his passion for Muay Thai still burns as brightly as ever, and he’s still seeking new challenges.
That search led him to Singapore – where he trains the next generation of martial arts stars at Evolve MMA – and subsequently to ONE Championship and ONE Super Series.
He made history by competing in – and winning – the first Muay Thai bout in ONE Championship history when he defeated Joseph “Hurricane” Lasiri at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES earlier this year.
Now, he hopes to become the first ONE Super Series Muay Thai World Champion by defeating Wielzen in Singapore at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS.
“This fight is very important,” he says.
“It is also the first Muay Thai championship fight in ONE Championship history. I am the first person to fight for this championship.
“I want to create history, and inspire myself – not only in fighting, but also in instructing. If I win this fight, it is going to be my greatest achievement.”