Evolve MMA and ONE Championship Founder Chatri Sityodtong forged himself through hardship and suffering, as detailed in the recently released short biopic, “The Chatri Sityodtong Story | Suffering, Sacrifice & Success.”
Chatri came from very dire circumstances in his life, living through extreme poverty during the Asian Financial Crisis, surviving on just $4 a day, and basically going through unimaginable obstacles to get to where he’s at today.
Through incredible determination and hard work, and an unwavering passion for excellence, as well as his love for martial arts, Chatri was able to turn his life around and dig his family out of the trenches.
Chatri’s story has been told many different times before. His life has been covered extensively. This new documentary, however, tells his life story through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched.
The documentary is an extraordinary tale about suffering, and sacrifice, and how one man rose above it all to achieve immense success.
Of course, there’s a plethora of lessons to be learned from such an inspirational story. Let’s take a look at some key takeaways. Today, Evolve Daily shares five lessons to learn from Chatri Sityodtong’s life story.
1) Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
More than anything you can learn from textbooks in school, you learn most through experience. It is often said that experience is life’s greatest teacher. Chatri’s life experiences were so extraordinary, he learned an incredible amount of knowledge just by having to deal with the adversity he went through growing up.
Chatri has always said that the lessons he learned while training in martial arts have been invaluable in practically everything he’s ever done in business, in his relationships, and in surviving life in general. He will be the first to tell you that it has never been about winning and success, but by failing daily. Chatri is a firm believer in the value of failure.
“Martial arts gave me mental strength, integrity, humility, courage, fearlessness,” Chatri once said.
“So many things I apply in the business world. All those life lessons I’ve learned from thousands of hours of training forged in me a warrior’s spirit to conquer adversity. In the business world, that’s the only way you can deal with obstacles and failures.”
When you fail, you discover things about yourself that you wouldn’t have otherwise known had you been winning all the time. That’s why a lot of fighters who have lost always say they emerged from the rubble better and stronger. Failure will give you the opportunity to fix your mistakes, to discover your weaknesses, and improve on them.
2) Passion Breeds Excellence
Chatri is an incredibly passionate person, especially when it comes to martial arts and business. He’s a firm believer in loving what you do, which leads to excellence.
Chatri says he is fortunate to have discovered what he was passionate about at a very young age. Watching the amazing Muay Thai fights for the first time with his father as a young boy at Lumpinee Stadium is a moment in his life that he will never forget.
From that moment on, Chatri lived and breathed Muay Thai. He eventually walked through the doors of the Sityodtong Gym and learned the art. Through rigorous training, he began to understand the value of hard work. This is what propelled him to graduate from Harvard University and provide a better life for his family.
After making his fortune in Silicon Valley and then further compounding his wealth on Wall Street, Chatri decided to return home to Asia to chase his dream of celebrating martial arts, and uniting over 4 billion people in celebration of Asia’s greatest cultural treasure. This marked the birth of ONE Championship.
Over the years, Chatri brought many inspiring martial artists to the ONE Championship fold. Sharing the stories of his amazing athletes has now become Chatri’s mission.
“One thing that people don’t realize about world champions in martial arts, even though they’re the toughest guys in the world, they’ve come from tremendous adversity,” Chatri said.
“They’re born to poverty, orphanages, and whatnot. So for me, showcasing their amazing life stories of overcoming incredible odds is something that really ignites me because I know that Asia will be infused with hope, strength, and inspiration just for their own daily lives.”
It’s this passion for martial arts and storytelling that has helped Chatri change the world.
3) Learn From Your Elders
When Chatri donned the gloves for the very first time at Sityodtong Gym, he was just a boy who had big dreams. That’s when Pi Tu, now known as Papa Daorung, took him under his wing like a big brother and guided Chatri through his martial arts journey.
Much of Chatri’s knowledge of Muay Thai came from Papa Daorung and their master, Kru Yodtong Senanan, the founder of Sityodtong Muay Thai Gym.
“Over several years, under the careful guidance of our master Kru Yodtong, Pi Tu passed down his knowledge of Muay Thai to me,” Chatri said.
“As the circle of life would have it, I had the precious opportunity to repay his kindness many years later; Pi Tu now works at one of my companies, Evolve, as one of our senior trainers.”
Though Chatri didn’t end up becoming a World Champion Muay Thai fighter, rigorous training allowed him to understand the inner workings of the martial art and discovered what he was capable of as a human being. The lessons he learned from Muay Thai helped him get through some of the darkest moments of his life.
“I remember thinking to myself that it was going to be impossible. I wanted to quit. It was the toughest training I’d ever experienced in my entire life,” Chatri spoke about his training. “But the crazy thing is, after the training, I never felt so alive.”
If it weren’t for Papa Daorung’s generosity and Kru Yodtong Senanan’s guidance, Chatri would have never realized his true potential.
4) You Can’t Do it All Alone
Chatri certainly didn’t achieve all he has achieved by himself. Along the way on his journey to success, there were many people who helped him become the man he is today. Some of these amazing individuals were featured in the video.
Chatri’s support system includes his Harvard University best buddy, Saurabh Mittal, who now sits on the board at ONE Championship as Vice Chairman, his mother, Michiyo Komatsu, who never gave up on him even as they both lived day-to-day in poverty, and all of the martial arts World Champions whose lives he touched.
Because martial arts gave him so much in his life, Chatri was compelled to give right back. He used his material wealth to change the lives of so many martial artists he came across on his path.
Singtongnoi Por Telakun, while serving as an instructor at Evolve MMA, was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Feeling lost and hopeless, Singtongnoi had no means to pay for what was expected to be a tremendous medical bill. Chatri shouldered a hundred percent of Singtongnoi’s treatment, and today, the Thai warrior is cancer-free.
Despite making a name for himself in the competitive grappling circuit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion Almiro Barros had a difficult life back in Brazil. He once resorted to selling newspapers on the streets just to be able to make money to buy food to eat. Chatri took Barros under his wing and gave him a job as an instructor at Evolve MMA, and now he’s financially secure for the rest of his life.
Though it was Chatri who helped these people in their lives, he received personal fulfillment in return, ultimately making him a better person.
5) Do Something That Ignites Your Soul
Last but not least, Chatri’s greatest message is one that urges people to do ‘something that ignites your soul’ and makes you ‘feel alive.’
“I owned a US$500 million global hedge fund when I decided to retire at 37 years old. On paper, I was on top of the world. I had everything in life and more. Inside though, something was missing in my soul. No one knew it, but I knew it. All the money and material things in the world could never fill that void,” Chatri said.
“I was not living my definition of success. I was living society’s definition. It was painful to admit, but I had climbed to the top of the wrong mountain.”
When Chatri decided to build Evolve MMA and ONE Championship, that’s when he found his true calling.
“In life, we don’t choose what we love. The heart wants what the heart wants,” Chatri said.
“Martial arts has been my greatest passion in life since I was a kid. I’ve been a part of martial arts as a student, a fighter, a teacher, and a coach for almost 30 years. Without a doubt, I owe a lot of my success in life to martial arts. While I am still involved in other businesses today, there is no question what lights up my soul. Martial arts is what I love. Martial arts is who I am.”
Because of this, Chatri wakes up every day hungry and determined to make a dent in the universe. Martial arts for him is more than just a job, or an industry. It’s the way in which he chooses to live his life.
Chatri’s life story teaches us that, no matter what our passion — whether that’s competing against the best fighters in the world inside a ring or a cage, solving complex mathematical and logical equations as a computer programmer, or developing delectable dishes as a chef — that we should ignite our souls with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration.
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