Believe it or not, punching someone in the face for money can have different meanings and consequences. As is life, context is everything.
Edgar Tabares grew up in Mexico state, and he currently lives in the town of Ecatepec de Morelos, or simply known just as Ecatepec. He is the oldest of four children, as he has two younger brothers and one younger sister. While he used to teach English, his whole life revolves around combat sports today, and he is a professional Muay Thai fighter and coach.
I am only doing my Muay Thai stuff. I’m only a fighter and a coach. I used to teach English and other things, but, in this moment, I am only a fighter.
“When I was nine, I started with Taekwondo,” Tabares told Combat Press. “After three years, I changed over to Muay Thai, so, since I was 12 years old, I was involved in this fighting life.
“I was bullied. My family, my cousins, my brother were my bullies. So, my parents introduced me to martial arts to defend myself, and everything was history.”
While he lived a family-oriented life, things were still a bit rough, growing up in Central Mexico. And, Tabares had to help make ends meet.
“It was kind of tough,” said Tabares. “It was a little bit tough, because, as in every city, there was a lot of corruption, a lot of bad people, drugs, all this kind of stuff. But, my parents were very good at taking me in the right way. It was a little bit tough, because I didn’t have enough money, so I had to make money myself, because my family was in money trouble.
“I did some bad things, but I don’t have a problem in saying that, because I know God forgave me, and the people who I hurt did too. When I was 16 or 17, I did some bad things. Someone would tell me, ‘I want you to hit someone.’ I would say, ‘Okay, yeah. It cost 200 pesos, okay?’ I punched people to put some money in my pocket, but I regret this. I changed. I am a new person, and I love that.”
Tabares may have punched people for money in a less-than-honorable way as a teenager, but as he grew up, his fighting skills would translate into a successful career. Now, he is on the right side of getting paid to punch people, and he is pretty good at it. In Muay Thai, the 29-year-old now holds a professional record of 32-5-1. He trains out of Richard Cruz Muay Thai and Fighting Demons. While he has been very successful thus far, he is always looking to get better.
“I think that my record is good.” Tabares said. “I always want to improve my record, but I also think that it’s good to lose. It’s good to lose sometimes, because you need that push to improve yourself, improve your skills and change your mind. Because when we are always winning, I think that everything is good. I don’t have to change anything. And when you lose, you are thinking about what you did bad. This is the opportunity to change.”
Tabares has held many titles in Muay Thai, but recently he received the call of a lifetime from ONE Championship. Not only was he getting an offer to join the promotion, but he was offered a title fight ONE flyweight Muay Thai champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon in the co-main event at ONE Fight Night 10, the promotion’s North American debut in Broomfield, Colo. on Friday, May 5. That was a lot of information to process in one sitting
“I was so excited when I read the first message about fighting in ONE,” Tabares explained. “I was so excited. I was very happy. I had to be quiet, because I was in my church reunion. I was so happy. When my reunion finished, I opened the message, and I read it completely. When I saw my opponent, I said, ‘Oh my God!’ But, my wife told me, ‘Hey, don’t worry. It’s good. This is your opportunity. You have to take this opportunity.’ Well, here I am.”
Tabares and his wife Jimena have been married for four years, but they have been together since they were teenagers. She has always been very supportive of his fighting career, and this time is no different.
“She’s excited,” said Tabares. “She’s nervous. She’s very happy, because this opportunity changed our lives, thanks to God. and she sent me to the fight. Honestly, I want to make some money. We need this kind of push in our lives.”
At this stage in the game, there is even more for Tabares to fight for. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, and even as a toddler, she is also very supportive of her father.
“She was at my last fight, and I thought that she was, like, nervous,” Tabares said. “No, she was so excited when I fight. She’s very emotional with me. She feels everything. And, when my daughter and my wife see me nervous or worried, my daughter touches my face, and says, ‘I love you, Dad. Don’t worry.’”
Well, nobody can blame Tabares if he is a little bit nervous for his next opportunity. Rodtang might be a few years younger than him, but he is already a legend in the sport. The Thai fighter is 270-42-10 in his combined striking career, has earned multiple titles, and has fought in some of the most iconic stadiums in the sport, including Rajadamnern and Lumpinee. He picked up the ONE title with a win over Jonathan Haggerty in Aug. 2019, and still holds it today. Rodtang also holds ONE Championship records for the most decision wins and longest winning streak, which includes four title defenses. Needless to say, Tabares is fully aware of who he is up against.
“Honestly, I know everything,” said Tabares. “I am his fan. I am a big fan of Rodtang. When I wanted to get into ONE, the first thing that I wanted to do is to meet Rodtang and take a picture with him. I saw his his fights, and I am a big fan of him. I watch his videos. I watch his fights. I follow him. I try to speak with him on Instagram, but I know that he’s very busy.
“Honestly, I tried to make my style like his. But, if I try to fight like him, I’m going to lose. I have to be intelligent. I have to be smart, and I’m trying to make a different style to fight him. I think that it’s going to be an epic war. Here in Mexico, I am known as ‘Muay Thai Monster’ because I don’t move back. I’m always moving forward.”
Tabares may be up against a living legend, but he is no pushover, and has no plans to concede victory without putting up a battle. He is a lengthy fighter, who will bring in a size advantage to his first ONE title fight. And the fact that he will be fighting on his home continent is just icing on the cake.
“It’s a dream come true, because I am going to meet my superstars,” admitted Tabares. “It’s a great opportunity to open the doors to other Mexican fighters. It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to fight in the USA.”
ONE Fight Night 10 airs live on Prime Video at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Friday, May 5, from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.