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Life lessons from the cage: How MMA breeds success

Angela Lee and Natalie Gonzales Hills during their weigh in, ahead of their bout at the ONE: Pride of Lions fighting event
ONE Championship
Angela Lee and Natalie Gonzales Hills during their weigh in, ahead of their bout at the ONE: Pride of Lions fighting event

Mixed martial arts (MMA) isn't just about physical prowess, it can help people succeed as human beings, according to one self-made multi-millionaire.

"Without MMA, I wouldn't be the entrepreneur I was today," said Chatri Sityodtong, a senior Muay Thai instructor and founder of Asia's largest sports media company ONE Championship. He also runs Evolve MMA, one of the region's leading gyms for both MMA professional fighters and amateurs.

"For one, you inherit courage. When I see a six-year old kid walk into class for the fist time, you can see they're shy but the transformation after six months is unbelievable. They inherit confidence, mental strength and become warriors in life."

Evolve boasts a diverse customer base: Its youngest member is a 4-year old girl and its oldest is a 75-year old retired medical doctor, according to Sityodtong.

Regular training can also instill humility, discipline, work ethic, a desire to overcome challenges and a constant drive for self-improvement, Sityodtong said. "These qualities apply to every area of life, including love, work, and family, and can lead you to success in each one."

For fighters committed to the sport — which is sometimes criticized as brutally violent and dangerous — the mental results are especially rewarding.

"After putting in thousands of hours into MMA, you end up battling yourself and overcoming insecurities. I wanted to quit so many times because I was failing, scared, or because someone else was better than me but you learn to get past those feelings," Sityodtong said.

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