ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong is proud of the ONE Championship athletes who are Asian Games veterans. Among them are former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, May “Mighty” Ooi, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan and Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai.
“Martial arts is Asia’s greatest cultural treasure, and I personally believe that the best martial artists in the world come from this wonderful continent.” Sityodtong proclaimed. “Everyday, new heroes in martial arts emerge, and some of them have shined in big, big stages such as the Asian Games.”
For Sityodtong, the Asian Games is a possible hotbed of future martial arts champions who can eventually take their talents to the global stage of ONE Championship. He said, “Look at Eduard Folayang. He’s a two-time Asian Games medalist and then he went on to become a world champion in mixed martial arts.”
“Look at May Ooi, who’s competed twice in the Asian Games as a swimmer,” Sityodtong said. “28 years later after her first time, she’s back on that stage, this time as a Jiu-Jitsu competitor and as a full-fledged martial artist. It’s an amazing thing that these national athletes do.”
“After winning medals Wushu in the Asian Games, Folayang jumped to mixed martial arts and became a champion there,” the ONE Championship chairman and CEO added. “We have Catalan, a former Asian Games gold medalist who’s on the brink of a world title shot after five-straight wins.”
Before reaching the pinnacle of ONE Championship’s 77.1-kilogram division, Folayang was a two-time Asian Games medalist in Wushu, capturing Bronze in the 2002 Busan Asian Games and Silver in the 2006 Doha Asian Games. In the 2006 Doha Asian Games, Folayang’s fellow Filipino, Catalan, bagged the gold medal in Wushu.
Representing Thailand, Kongsrichai made it to the quarterfinals of the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling 55-kilogram tournament in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. This was before he made his way into mixed martial arts.
After representing Singapore in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games and the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games as a swimmer, Ooi will be making her third Asiad appearance. But this time, she will be a competitor in the newly introduced Jiu-Jitsu tournament.
“These guys have continued to showcase their talents, years after their Asian Games stints,” Sityodtong said of the ONE Championship athletes who are competed in the Asian Games. “We’re always keeping an eye out in those competitions, especially the traditional martial arts like Wushu, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and Silat. These martial arts are among the pillars of mixed martial arts.”
“These athletes are the best of the best from their countries in their respective disciplines,” Sityodtong added. “And of course, one day, we’d love to have them continuing to represent their countries, hopefully on the ONE Championship stage.”
Meanwhile, here is a recent interview with Sityodtong: