Rodlek PKSaenchaigym will become the latest Thai star to appear on ONE Championship when he makes his promotional debut on Saturday at the Baoshan Arena in Shanghai. He faces a stern test against English superstar Liam Harrison.

Rodlek is known for his action packed, walk forward style, tailor made for the fight scene outside of Thailand. Like most Thai fighters started out at an early age and it turned out to be a tough baptism in the sport,

“I was take to fight by my father, he was a boxer himself but not at a high level just in Koh Samui and around the South of Thailand. I lost my first fight by fourth round stoppage, I had never trained or fought before and my opponent was already established as a fighter at one of the bigger gyms in Koh Samui.”

It might have been a mismatch but Rodlek still gave a glimpse of the sort of fighting spirit he would become known for,

“I was determined and tried hard to fight but he was too good and the referee called off the fight as I was outclassed. I wasn’t put off though and I was determined that day that I had to avenge the loss and beat him. I started training properly and after about ten fights I got to rematch him and beat him this time.”

Rodlek carried on fighting in the region around his native Koh Samui and enjoyed the attention, as well as the additional income,

“Back then my family were very poor, it was difficult for us money wise so I fought a lot to help ease the burden. I also loved the recognition it brought, I won the 70lbs title at Chaweng stadium and a 100lbs Marathon tournament in Samui, before having my first fight in Bangkok about 14 years ago at Omnoi stadium.”

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Changing style

Rodlek hasn’t just focused on his fighting career, but has always had one eye on the future and he managed to graduate with a Masters degree from Ratanabandit University in Bangkok. It was while he was studying there he also got an education in the fight game from a former star and his style evolved in to the fan friendly, action packed fighter we see today,

“While I studied at Ratanabandit University, I trained and fought out of Sitsongpeenong gym which was nearby. I was there when Bovy Sor Udomson was a trainer and he taught me a lot and changed the way I fight. When I was based in the South I was predominately a clinch and knee fighter, but he showed me how to really use my hands well and elbows and I developed a more all-round fighting style.

Rodlek went on to win the WPMF 126lbs title beating Tuanpae Kiatkomsing at Lumpinee stadium and the 130lbs Channel 7 title after beating Neunglanlek Jitmuangnon. Some of his most memorable battles have been against Seksan Or Kwanmuang whose similar action packed style made for some all out wars,

“I can’t remember how many times we fought exactly, probably six or seven times. We fought both as younger fighters on the scene in the South of Thailand and in Bangkok and are probably even in terms of wins and losses. My favorite ever fight was when I beat Seksan at Lumpinee stadium, we had a very hard fight which went back and forth but I got the win that time.”

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International focus

The fight with Harrison at ONE: ‘Legendary Quest’ will be Rotlek’s second fight outside of Thailand, but it was consequences of the first fight in Japan that saw him decide to finish is career in the Bangkok stadiums and focus exclusively on fighting overseas,

“I fought Genji Umeno in Japan and beat him on points but I broke my hand during the fight and had to have seven months away from the ring. I am not getting any younger and when I came back to fight in the stadiums I didn’t feel the same, it was harder to get back in shape to the top level and I lost several fights in a row before sitting down with my boss Sia Kaek, the owner of the PKSaenchai Gym, and deciding that I would just fight abroad.”

Rodlek joined the PKSaenchai camp around two years ago and feels it was a great move for him and has brought even more opportunities, especially now with the dream chance to fight on ONE Championship,

“Being at PKSaenchai is like being part of a big family, we get looked after very well and the rewards are great when we win. They managed to get me on ONE Championship, which is every fighters dream to fight on now. I feel very confident that I can really put on a show and entertain the fans with my style of fighting.”

Rodlek spoke highly of his opponent and predicts a thrilling fight, but is still very confident of the win,

“I have watched a lot of his fights and he is very strong and has great technique, we have a very similar style and I think it is going to be a great fight to watch. I am confident I will get the win though as I think I have a slight edge in determination and I really want to become famous outside of Thailand now.”