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Globe Meets Chatri Sidyodtong, ONE Championship’s CEO

ONE Championship is the world’s largest martial arts organization, and is well on the way to becoming the leading combat sports promotion globally as their fights are booming in popularity on social media, and through Amazon Prime streaming in the US and Canada. Having first launched in Asia in 2011, the company is now valued at more than $1 billion.

Chatri Sityodtong, the CEO of ONE Championship, citing a recent report from information and data analysis firm Nielsen titled “Year in Review: Sports Consumption Evolution,” has revealed that ONE is now in the top five in viewership and engagement among all major global sports properties, having ranked at number 2 on the list released in April, 2022.

Globe sat down for an exclusive interview with Chatri, who lately has been busy planning a series of weekly martial arts events set to commence at Lumpinee Stadium in January, to ask him about his journey to the top, and any advice he has for anyone starting out.

Please tell us when you first had the idea for ONE Championship?

I have been doing martial arts all my life. I also worked on Wall Street for 10 years. I had a great life which I really enjoyed. However, it was very materialistic and was largely driven by money. I didn’t feel fulfilled inside. Something was missing. During my Wall Street time I’d started to realize I had climbed to the top of the wrong mountain – I was experiencing society’s definition of success, not MY definition of it, so I decided to pursue my passion.

How has establishing ONE changed your life for the better?

It really means everything to me. I am alive living with love and purpose 24/7, doing what drives me the most. I am inspiring the world, and I can’t believe that this is my life. It’s the greatest dream come true. Over time, I hope that I can help as many people as possible.

Does a martial arts background give you an edge managing so many fighters?

Yes. Definitely. I have 38 years of martial arts experience, ever since I was a 13-year-old. I trained Muay Thai. I have been a student, a competitor, a teacher, a promoter, now I am a CEO. Our athletes are my brothers and sisters. I come from the community, and I love the community. It makes a huge difference that I understand them, and they understand me.

What attracted you to become a promoter for Lumpinee Stadium?

Well of course ONE represents the very best of the best around the world for martial arts. It’s the home of martial arts, and the world’s largest stage for martial arts. ONE Lumpinee is a brand extension of ONE, and will showcase the best of the best in Thailand. Viewers from all over the globe will be tuning in to watch these incredible events from Bangkok.

If you think of Lumpinee Stadium, do you have any special memories?

When I was a child growing up, I came to Lumpinee Stadium with my father since I was 9 years old. I was always inspired by the fantastic athletes, but it always made me sad that when they retired, these athletes always wound up as tuk-tuk drivers or security guards, and they became poor once again. It always stuck with me, and encouraged me to look for any opportunity where I could help my people, something I’m very passionate to do.

You star on The Apprentice, as did Donald Trump. Does politics interest you?

No, not at all. I would make a terrible politician, and I don’t like politics. I love martial arts. Through martial arts, we are able to change lives, inspire fans to live their greatest lives, and elevate humanity. This is what is most important to me, and drives me to succeed.

How has your love of martial arts helped to shape your life?

The best thing I ever did was to take up Muay Thai, and become a martial artist. Through decades of training I developed integrity, humility, honour, respect, courage, compassion and a will to work hard. Muay Thai has brought so many incredible attributes into my life.

What keeps you motivated each day, personally and professionally?

Well, what works for me. and I would recommend this to anyone: try to surround yourself with the best people, in order to unleash yourself. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you are around dreamers, achievers and do-ers you will also become a dreamer, achiever and do-er. Think of this when running a business too.

Do you have a top tip for anyone who wants to achieve success in their life?

Aim to align your passion and your purpose with who you truly are inside. So it is 1000% authentic, and you are not doing it for anybody else but yourself. That is when you shall become unstoppable! I only discovered this aged 37. I had been living for titles, and for promotions. Looking for money, and materialism. That’s all in the past. Today, I live with purpose and love. Find your authenticity. Find who you are, and you shall find success.