Chatri Sityodtong on values and coming to America

Friday, August 16, 2019

As a child, the Japanese-Thai Chatri Sityodtong began training in Muay Thai under Kru Yodtong at Sityodtong Camp in Pattaya, Thailand. In time, Yodtong bestowed on him the name Yodchatri Sityodtong, and appointed him as one of four conservators worldwide of Sityodtong Muay Thai. That is just a part of Chatri's story, or maybe it's all of it.

Chatri's family lost everything in the Asian financial crisis in the 90s, and ended up homeless, eating one meal a day. Eventually his father abandoned the family. But the story has a happy ending.

In 1999 Chatri received an MBA from Harvard. Not long after, he joined Bain and Company as a management consultant. For the next several years he was involved in Internet start ups, investment banking, real estate, and other ventures, making many millions. In 2008, Chatri founded the Evolve MMA chain of academies. By 2013, Evolve MMA was widely regarded as the top MMA gym in Asia, and Chatri as one of the sport's top coaches. 

Chatri is also involved with a number of charitable efforts, including Project Sunshine for terminally-ill children, and Singapore's Boys Town Home for orphans and troubled children. In short, Chatri Sityodtong is an amazingly great human being, and excellent for the universe.

His greatest effort is ONE Championship, and in an interview with Jim Varsallone for the Miami Herald, Chatri talked about the heart of the organization, and coming to America. Hint - no one is punching old men in a bar.

“I’m a lifelong martial artist," said Sityodtong, 47. "I’ve been doing it for over 35 years. I still train every day. I’ve been a student, a fighter, a teacher, a coach and now a CEO.”

“I felt the West was misportraying what real martial arts is truly about... With a 5,000-year history here in Asia, as being the birthplace of martial arts, I want to showcase the very best not only of martial arts but also the very best of humanity. Because at the end of the day — any martial artist will tell you — one of the biggest benefits of martial arts is that you inherit integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, passion, discipline from all these thousands of hours of training in martial arts.”

“So, yes, there is a physical element of martial arts with the beautiful kicks and the punches and artistry, but there is a deeper meaning of martial arts, which basically is unleashing greatness in human beings by instilling these incredible values. This is what ONE Championship is about.”

“I’ll give you an example. Our hero of Myanmar, Aung La N Sang, he is the middleweight champion as well as the light heavyweight champion in ONE Championship," explained Sityodtong. "He literally unites 54 million people around his life story, around his achievements, around his life values. Myanmar is a country historically that has had tremendous civil strife and civil wars, but every Myanmar person can agree that Aung is a hero, and every Myanmar person is proud and uses his life story — an incredible life story — for inspiration for their own views to make a better country.”

Plans are underway to hold events in the United States.

“Most definitely,” said Sityodtong. “We have been in high-level discussions with Turner senior executives. They see massive potential in ONE Championship and our partnership to really do something big in the U.S. I’ll just say, ‘Stay tuned,’ but definitely we are on track to promoting our first event in the U.S. next year.”