John Lineker (L) (ONE Championship)

John Lineker Discusses Growing Up and His Inspiration to Fight

John Lineker is one of the most beloved athletes competing in combat sports today. He is notorious for biting down on his mouthpiece and swinging for the fences, and his power is legendary. 

Another reason the Brazilian star is so likable is that he is humble and grounded, which has helped fans around the world connect with him.

Before he steps inside Lumpinee Stadium for his ONE bantamweight title rematch with Fabricio Andrade at ONE Fight Night 7, Lineker spoke with ONE about his childhood and inspirations to chase his martial arts dream.


“We were happy children. We played a lot in the street, close to our house. The place where we lived was very humble, but we had a lot of fun on the street, in the rain, stepping in the mud. Our family life was very good. Despite not having much, we were happy,” he told ONE.

“I couldn’t sit still. I spent the whole day on the street, chasing horses. I was very fond of horses. I played soccer, played hide and seek a lot. I didn’t stop for a minute. At school, I was also very hyper and a little messy. But, thank God, my parents raised us well, even though I’m a little electric.”

“Hands of Stone” recounted how bullies would pick on him for his height. 

Although he wasn’t opposed to getting into a scrap, the taller children would call him a dwarf and pat him on the head. Eventually, though it came time to confront them and make them realize that size doesn’t matter.

“The thing was already heating up, and we solved it right there. My father always said, ‘If you fight in the street and get beaten up, you’ll get beat up at home, too.’ So, I went with everything. I’d rather hit than get beaten twice,” the former ONE bantamweight champion said.

His life took a turn toward combat sports just before he became a teenager.

Lineker discovered an article on Brazilian boxing great Acelino Freitas and became enraptured by his life’s story, foreshadowing the similar impact that Lineker is now having on the next generation of Brazilian children who aspire to be a champion.

“That impacted me. It generated a fire in my heart, something very strong. And that ended up becoming my wish, it became my dream. I already liked to fight, so having martial arts as a lifestyle to support my family was something that really moved me. I started practicing boxing soon after I read this article,” he said.

The rest, as they say, is history. Lineker’s power, aided by his time as a bricklayer’s assistant, has become his calling card. It has taken him to the apex of the sport, and it is what he is hoping to utilize on Feb. 24 against Andrade to reclaim his gold.

But even if he fails, the American Top Team representative knows that the true mark of a champion is bringing their best to the table. Those values were instilled in him from his greatest inspiration of all, his father. And no matter what happens at ONE Fight Night 7, he is thankful for that.

“My father was my greatest inspiration, my model of effort, a person who always struggled to bring sustenance into the house and not let the family lack anything. My dad wasn’t much for saying ‘I love you,’ but his actions showed us how much he loved us and how much he wanted to take care of us. That’s why he is my biggest inspiration and my role model,” Lineker said.

“Today, I am that person thanks to my father, who has a huge heart, has a great character, and is a good and honest person. And, thank God, I followed the same path.”

ONE Fight Night 7 begins at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 24, on Prime Video. The action is free for all Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and Canada.