Thai striking star Superlek Kiatmoo9 is in the final stages of preparation for his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Grand Prix semifinal at ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II on Friday, August 26.
Superlek will try to upend Brazilian powerhouse Walter Goncalves that evening and punch his ticket to the tournament final later this year.
Like many athletes who take to the global stage in ONE Championship, his father will be cheer him on as he makes the walk on Aug. 26. However, that was not always the case for the 26-year-old, who didn’t meet his father until three years ago.
When he would question his mother as a child, she would tell him that he left while she was pregnant. All that “The Kicking Machine” knew was that he became a monk and eventually lost contact with the family when they moved. But, in reality, his father was never even aware that his mother was pregnant.
The search for answers would take a turn when Superlek entered the military and applied to become a sergeant.
“I needed my father’s ID card, or I couldn’t take the sergeant entrance exam. My mother gave me some clues about the province where he resides. Then my wife went to the district office and asked for my father’s information from the district registrar. But we found out that he has moved to another place,” he said.
“Later, we searched the information from the civil registration. It turns out that they spelled my father’s name wrong, making it impossible to search for correct information. Later, I showed a photograph of him that I discovered for confirmation if he is really my father. And my mother confirmed ‘Yes, he indeed is your father.’”
Another sergeant in the military assisted in the search and traveled to his father’s last known address to confirm his residency. When he returned and told Superlek the location had been correct, it was time for the Thai star to finally meet his father.
Nervous and excited, Superlek made the journey and came face-to-face with the man who had given him life but who he had never met. After asking him to confirm he was his father with a photo, he knew he had found the right man.
“I felt overwhelmed. That was the first time I paid my respects to my father. I can’t describe how I felt at that time. But it overflows inside. It felt surreal. He told me that he had been trying to find my mother and I for years as well. But at that time, we could only communicate by mail, no cell phones. He didn’t even know he had a child with my mother,” he said.
“When I first met my father was when I was about to get married, so I’m so happy that I have a picture with my mom and dad at my wedding. It was a memorable time.”
Since then, the two have maintained communication and visit each other regularly.
Superlek has even gotten advice on how to maintain his focus and dedication ahead of his important bouts, such as his upcoming battle at ONE on Prime Video 1.
“He was proud of me when he realized that I am a Muay Thai fighter. He told his friends about my career, and he watched all of my fight videos. He always calls me ahead of my fight day,” “The Kicking Machine” said.
“When he knows that I have a fight, he always encourages me to focus on my practice. He used to say that he really wants to see me to be the World Champion one day, and I’d like to make his dream come true.”
Superlek had been teased for not having a father as a child, but he never let bullies and naysayers affect the man he would become. Having a father now is just a bonus and one he cherishes with love and respect.
In one week, Superlek’s father will cheer him on as he takes to the stage once again to get another step closer to becoming a world champion.
ONE on Prime Video 1: Moraes vs. Johnson II airs live at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 26.