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ONE's Liam Harrison has a 'brother' for life in Andy Howson: 'We've got a special bond'

Ahead of "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic," Liam Harrison reflects on his longtime relationship with Andy Howson.

Cousins Liam "Hitman" Harrison and Andy "The Punisher" Howson grew up side by side in England, and both have achieved world championship success in muay Thai. 

Even now, as the 36-year-old Harrison prepares to hunt for a ONE bantamweight muay Thai world title shot at "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic," the Leeds-based athletes are still practically joined at the hip. 

Ahead of his bout against Muangthai PK.Saenchai on Friday, 22 April, "Hitman" recalled how such a close bond was formed with the 42-year-old Howson throughout their early years. 

"Andy is like my brother because he's an only child and I'm an only child," Harrison said. His mum is my mum's sister, so we're cousins. But yeah, we're like brothers – he's always been a brother to me growing up."

Harrison and Howson have been integral parts of each other's journeys through martial arts, and it seems that will never change.

Training at the famous Bad Company Gym in their home city, "Hitman" knows he can rely on the five-time Muay Thai World Champion to act as a pad man or a sparring partner during fight camps. 

"(Andy is) always there to help me, like I was there to help him for his fights," Harrison said. "It's good knowing that there's always going to be someone who's as high level as Andy there at a drop of a hat for me.

"We are brothers, and we've got a special bond so it's good to spend time together. Like now, he's just had a baby daughter a few months ago, so she comes down to the gym with him, so we have our family time as well as training."

The thrower becomes the thrown

Being Harrison's top training partner has its perks, but it also has its pitfalls. 

When he's not competing, the six-time Muay Thai World Champion runs a massively popular training website, and cousin Howson is his main body for demonstrations. 

Fans love watching their unique relationship – and seeing Harrison launch "The Punisher" with his patented sweeps and throws.

But if you ask the younger athlete, it's all fair compensation for what he endured during childhood.

"From probably 3 years old until about 14, I got battered every single day because all we did was watch WWF, and I was the one who was always getting suplexed or slammed or power bombed," Harrison said. "So this is a little bit of payback for me now that we're older!

"But seriously, we are always just helping each other. He demonstrates with me, and he's one of my main trainers now with Richard (Smith, Bad Company's head coach)."

Harrison and Howson are also excited about the prospect of taking their famous brand of muay Thai to the masses in person once again.

After "Hitman" gets done with the serious business of facing Muangthai PK.Saenchai at "ONE: Eersel vs. Sadikovic," the dynamic duo will travel to North America with a mission to inspire, educate, and entertain the muay Thai community.

Those sessions will be a thrill for those who turn out, and a chance for Howson to get a little payback of his own.

"We do joint seminars, and people see the videos of him throwing me on the floor," Harrison said. "It's not just me throwing him. He gives as good as he gets!

"I love going around different gyms and meeting different people and helping people learn, and the seminars are really popular. I've got a seminar tour in Canada and America coming up as well, and I've got seminars all over the U.K. So yeah, it's amazing just to get back out there."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.