One of the most valuable ideals that a parent can indoctrinate his child with is the idea that people need to work hard for the things they want. Whether it’s a material possession, a career, or an experience like a vacation, too many young people in today’s society feel they should be handed the things they want without having to put in the work. And, too often, this is a results of parental input, social media, poor educators, and all of the other garbage clogging today’s society.
Fortunately, for Asa Ten Pow, his father raised him right. He is a successful professional fighter, a business owner, a husband, and a father of a 10-month-old daughter. He owes a lot of that to his upbringing.
Ten Pow was born in Portland, Ore., and his parents got him into martial arts when he was only five years old. However, his parents split up, and he moved to West Palm Beach, Fla. with his father when he was only seven years old.
“I grew up with my father as a single parent,” Ten Pow told Combat Press. “He just, you know, taught me to be disciplined and independent. He put me on the job scene at 15 and told me I had to go work and help pay rent and stuff like that. So, I had to go out and get it. I decided the average working job at Subway or Wendy’s or anything like that was just really not for me. As I was doing those jobs, I was trying to make a career out of myself. It was really difficult, because I was changing hands a lot. I didn’t have a main trainer for a very long time. And in Florida, it was difficult to navigate, I guess you could say. It wasn’t an extremely hard life. It wasn’t one in a poverty situation. My dad was like, ‘well, if you want this, then you’ve got to get it yourself.’”
While hard work was always paramount as Ten Pow was growing up, so was martial arts. His dad found a lot of value in the teachings for his son.
“My father was adamant on me being and staying in it – learning consistency and discipline,” said Ten Pow. “I stayed in traditional martial arts up until I was 18. I got a black belt in Kung Fu – traditional Kung Fu – and, simultaneously, I was training in Sanda, so that kind of introduced me to competitive fighting. From there, when I kind of took the reins over myself, I started branching out doing a little bit more international kickboxing with low kicks. Going on from there, I kind of discovered Muay Thai through a couple various friends going back and forth to Thailand.
“I just wanted to learn more. I saw the fighting style and got into that. From there, I mean, in America, it’s difficult, obviously, to find fights, but I wanted to fight a lot. So, I was transitioning through MMA, as well as boxing, getting time in with a lot of great camps. That was one of my biggest things was to get good instruction as well, so I can give back. 2015, I went pro as a Muay Thai fighter, establishing about 60 or so amateur fights in mixed arts. At the same time, simultaneously, I co-opened up my gym Florida Kickboxing Academy, a 7,000-square-foot gym in Florida with the niche of teaching kickboxing and Muay Thai, as there was not anything going on there. I was navigating my career after that. I went from Lion Fight to GLORY, and, with GLORY stopping with the pandemic, I found myself in ONE shortly after. Now, here I am.”
Now 33 years old, Ten Pow has had a great career thus far. He has fought across multiple fighting arts. He went 2-0 in Muay Thai rules under the Lion Fight banner in 2016, before joining GLORY Kickboxing. From Jul. 2018 to Dec. 2019, he went 6-1 in GLORY. Unfortunately, 2020 brought on the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was nearly impossible to find fights. However, in Jun. 2021, Ten Pow was back in action, when he faced Kevin Ross for the vacant WMC 145-pound title at Triumphant 11. He won in the third round after a doctor stoppage.
Following his world Muay Thai title win, Ten Pow jumped into MMA action with Titan FC, where he had one win and one no-contest, before signing with ONE Championship.
“The goal was to get a bit of negotiations going between GLORY and ONE to see who wanted me more,” said Ten Pow. “Ultimately, I did want to do MMA again. I did want to do Muay Thai again. So that was impartial to that, but I do have a family to feed now. I needed to make sure that I was going to be more secure financially.
“I’m a lifelong martial artist, so learning different skill sets always brings euphoria to me. for sure. Learning that stuff, especially when I was in GLORY, the kickboxing style of training, I enjoy it. I like exchanges, for sure. But, with Muay Thai, you definitely get more weapons. It’s a different pace. I don’t choose one or the other. That’s kind of why I went to ONE, because they have the choice that you can do multiple. I would like to go and do kickboxing again, because there’s weapons I like to do in that. There’s a performance that I like to do in that, as opposed to Muay Thai. I like them both equally. I’m not going to lie.”
ONE Championship puts on fights across four different fighting modalities – submission grappling, MMA, Muay Thai, and kickboxing – so it is the perfect home for a fighter like Ten Pow. He made his promotional debut in Oct. 2022, when he fought longtime kickboxing and Muay Thai veteran Mehdi Zatout. After the first round, Ten Pow was done and lost the fight by TKO via retirement. The French-Algerian multiple-time world champion is no easy task, but Ten Pow felt he was prepared. However, in many ways, his head just wasn’t in the right place.
“Having a business like the gym, it’s very distracting,” Ten Pow explained. “It’s hard to get the training – especially, the level that Muay Thai is [in Thailand]. It’s hard to really get close to replication of that. I was doing a lot of this for myself. I was having to do private training, which is rather expensive every time. And, it’s nowhere as regimented as it is out here.
“With my eye getting collapsed on, that put me in a thought of I cannot put myself in there again without doing the most that I can for myself. I can’t play these three hands of being the owner, coach, and fighter. But, I needed to get in there again for personal reasons. I wanted to fight again. I lost my father last year in March. He was a big component of my martial arts career, and my headspace was all over the place. I felt like all I could do is what I know best. That was to fight. Going into the fight, I felt 100-percent confident in myself, but, you know, probably a little bit of arrogance in there as well. I wanted to nullify that and make sure that I put myself in a better position and better mindset with better preparation. I’m around world-class champions now, and they’re all bigger than me, like Sitthichai and Tawanchai, and they let me know it every day.”
For his next fight, Ten Pow, who has plenty of responsibilities in Florida, decided to make the sacrifice and take his training camp to Thailand.. He spoke with Khunpon Dechkampu, the world-renowned Muay Thai legend who owns Bangkok Boxing in Atlanta. Khunpon referred Ten Pow to a couple gyms in Thailand, and he ultimately settled on the Sitsongpeenong camp, which is where he has been training for his upcoming fight with Han Zi Hao at ONE Fight Night 9.
“I promised myself that, after the last fight, I had to do better, and I had to make sure that I put myself out of my comfort zone and acclimate better to going international,” said Ten Pow. “I just wanted to prepare a lot better for the fight.”
Han is certainly no pushover. He already has seven fights under the ONE banner, going back to Feb. 2019, and he has fought some of the best fighters in the world. Ten Pow is looking forward to the challenge.
“I believe he might be here in Thailand doing his training camp,” said Ten Pow. “I know he’s fought some of the best. He’s fought Nong-O. He’s fought Mehdi. He’s fought Victor Pinto. And recently, he fought Ferrari Fairtex. So he’s got the experience, definitely got the time in ONE, a lot better than me. His last fight, he didn’t look too great. He was well overweight for the weight class, so I’m thinking he’s gonna be in a lot better shape this time. He’s a strong fighter, as most Chinese fighters are. They’re very strong. He’s a big puncher, big-time puncher. I’m sure he’s gonna be there for all three rounds. So, I’m looking to showcase myself again and try to get that stop on him – you know, since he hasn’t been stopped.”
2022 was a rough year for Ten Pow. Losing his father in the spring to prostate cancer was, as he puts it, “a really big punch to the gut.” Losing his ONE debut wasn’t in the plans either, but it’s hard to be disappointed in losing to an all-time great, especially in what turned out to be Zatout’s retirement fight. However, his father got to see his title win against Ross, business is good and expanding, he’s a father now, and he has a huge opportunity tonight when he will make his sophomore appearance in the ONE Circle.
“I enjoy the journey a lot,” said Ten Pow. “I’m blessed to be able to do this, and, you know, continue to do this. With the pandemic, it really sucked. I’m not going to lie. That put a hinder on a few years there. But, you know, it is what it is. I’m where I’m at now, and I have the opportunity to pretty much put myself in a position that I can prepare the best and fulfill what I want. My desire is to become a world champion, especially in a large organization, such as ONE. I’m in that position now, and the money’s a little better, for sure. I worked really hard to get to this point where there is better paychecks. They could always be better, of course, but it’s better than it was last year and better than it was two years ago. Ideally, I wish I was world champion right now, but the journey has been great, so I can’t complain too much.
“I believe I bring an exciting fight. I bring an exciting style to the game. I’m an American fighter, and I always represent that. So, for me, we aren’t highly represented here, you know, outside of Janet [Todd]. So, we need to always make a splash, and that’s what I’m always trying to do out there. You’re going to see a lot of high-level techniques. I’ve been training really hard, and we’re not looking for a points fight. We are always looking for the knockout.”
ONE Fight Night 9: Nong-O vs. Haggerty airs live on Prime Video on Friday, Apr. 21. The event is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada and begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.