Skip to main content

How a military entrance exam led ONE's Superlek to discover his estranged father: 'I felt overwhelmed'

The ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix semifinalist recalls an emotional journey to reconnecting with his father.

Without a father, or at least a father figure, a boy can be left with a lot of unanswered questions.

This was the case for Thailand's Superlek Kiatmoo9, who takes on Walter Goncalves in the ONE flyweight muay Thai world grand prix semifinals at ONE on Prime Video 1 on Friday, August 26.

"The Kicking Machine" said ahead of his bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium:

"I never saw (my dad), and I didn't know anything about him. My mother, she almost never talked about him. I'd ask her, but she didn't give me much detail."

The only thing Superlek's mother told the future four-time muay Thai world champion was that his father left them when she was three-to-four months pregnant.

Determined to know about this mysterious man, Superlek would turn to other family members for help. But unfortunately, he was always left unsatisfied.

"I'd ask many people – like my grandma and grandpa – about my dad, but no one gave me the answers I wanted," he said.

Stumbling upon the man he never knew

Looking to build a life outside of muay Thai, Superlek joined the Thai military, became a soldier, and then applied for the sergeant's entrance exam. However, the Buriram native was missing one vital document to qualify – his father's ID card.

That motivated "The Kicking Machine" and his family members to start the search for his dad.

"My mother told me about the province he lived in," Superlek said. "Then my wife went to the district office and asked for my father's information from the registrar."

When the registrar entered his father's name into the system, nothing came back, so everyone assumed he had moved. But Superlek was determined to take the entrance exam, so he returned to the registrar and found out that they spelled the name incorrectly.

With the right name now entered into the system, he discovered that his father did live in the district. He took a photo he found at the registrar and showed his mom, who confirmed that it was his dad.

Superlek, however, was tentative to meet him. After all, the only thing he knew about his dad was that he left the family before the future muay Thai superstar was born. But eventually, "The Kicking Machine" went to the address and confronted the man at the door.

"I asked him to show me a document to confirm he was my father," Superlek said. "He showed a photo he received from his mother of me, and he was definitely my father. I felt overwhelmed. That was the first time I paid respect to my father. The (emotions) overflowed inside."

The story behind his father's disappearance

After speaking with his dad, Superlek was shocked to discover that his father never intended to leave his mother. In fact, the Kiatmoo9 athlete's dad went into the monkhood before finding out she was pregnant.

When Superlek's father came home, the mom-to-be already moved away, and with no cell phones or internet back then, it was hard for his dad to track her down.

Since their first encounter, the pair have been untangling their estranged relationship and growing closer.

"He was proud of me when he realized that I was a muay Thai fighter," Superlek said. "He told his friends about my career, and he watched all my fights."

Nowadays, the father-son duo frequently talk on the phone and visit each other. And even though Superlek is now 26 years old and much time was lost between the two, his father is making up for it.

"The Kicking Machine" said:

"He tells me to concentrate on my practice, to take care of myself, and don't stay up so late. When I have a fight, he always encourages me to focus. He really wants to see me become the (ONE) world champion one day, and I'd like to make his dream come true."

This story first published at ONEFC.com.