ONE flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon broke into the mainstream sports media seemingly overnight. He did so when the spotlight shone on him as he took on MMA great Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson in a mixed rules bout at ONE X.
Being attached to a household name like a DJ can really put you in front of a global audience; not that Rodtang ever really needed a boost. DJ’s fight, although he lost it, only allowed a wider audience to see Rodtang in all his glory.
This gave a mainstream audience a taste of what high level Muay Thai looks like; what a man with over 300 kickboxing fights can do against one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Needless to say the fight thrust Rodtang Jitmuangnon into the spotlight with the whole sport of Muay Thai with him.
Coming from humble beginnings as a poor child in Thailand to literally fighting to earn a better life for himself and his family, it took a fight for Rodtang to gain the global recognition he deserves. Now that he is fighting at ONE 161, an event that will be broadcast live to US-based audiences, Rodtang will get more exposure out west.
Another Asian fighter of similar greatness who rose out of poverty and rocketed into the global spotlight with just one fight: Manny Pacquiao.
In 2001, Pacquiao was already the WBC international super bantamweight champion and yet he was known only to diehard boxing circles. It wasn’t until he fought the late IBF super bantamweight world champion, Lehlo Ledwaba, that the world learned about the legend of “Pacman.”
Today we take a look at the similarities in careers, lives and fighting styles between Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Manny Pacquiao. We’ll take a look at whether the ONE world champion will follow in the legendary Filipino footsteps to become the next big Asian fighting superstar.
Like Pacquiao, Rodtang Jitmuangnon came out of poverty
What makes Manny Pacquiao so endearing to his fans is the fact that he is an ordinary man. In a developing country like the Philippines, the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Pacquiao grew up in extreme poverty, as did the majority of his people.
What the Filipino boxing icon symbolized was hope. He was that guy who fought his way out of poverty and had a better life. His people saw themselves in him. More exactly, they saw in him what they aspired to be.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon is exactly the same. He is also from a third world country and has managed to lift himself out of poverty. Using his career earnings, Rodtang was able to pay for his father’s cancer treatment and buy a house for his family.
Rodtang is the epitome of what a classic Thai fighter’s life can be like: from starving and training in gyms to becoming a world champion and having a better life. That’s why a similar career trajectory could happen for Rodtang, as his life and the way he literally fought for her is legendary, just like Manny Pacquiao’s.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon is a jovial champion with a heart of gold, just like Pacquiao
If you watch Rodtang’s entry walk to the circle, you wouldn’t think he’s going to fight. The man dances, smiles at the crowd and generally has a good time with his fans. He doesn’t have an inch of fear in his heart because his heart is pure.
Manny Pacquiao’s entry is also like that. The Filipino legend enters the ring as if God himself is behind him and nothing can go wrong. The smile on his face is like that of a child seeing a toy store for the first time – absolutely wholesome.
It’s not just their jovial side but also their fighting mentality that makes Rodtang and Pacquiao such endearing athletes. In a time of gossip and bad blood fighting, Manny and Rodtang refused to show any disrespect to their opponents.
These men are true martial artists and great human beings. Besides their in-ring exploits, Manny and Rodtang Jitmuangnon also made sure to give back not only to those who helped them, but also to their fans.
Rodtang jitmuangnon and Manny Pacquiao engage in exciting fights
This is above all the reason why Rodtang can become the next great Asian combat athlete after Manny Pacquiao. Just the senator fighter, the fighter Jitmuangnon doesn’t seem to know how to fight a boring fight. It’s a kill or be killed mentality for both fighters.
Like Pacquiao, the ferocity with which Rodtang Jitmuangnon advances, eats punches and then throws his own power suits is chilling to watch. There isn’t a single shy bone in Rodtang’s body as he uses all of his weaponized limbs to fend off his opponents.
Manny Pacquiao, from the start of his career through his peak into his later years, maintained his exciting fighting style. You will never see him dancing around his opponents, throwing jabs and playing it safe. He always walks into the fire and puts it out with his punches. Kind of like Rodtang Jitmuangnon.