Thai-Aussie Danial Williams is preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime at ONE Fight Night 8.
‘Mini T’ has been elevated to the main event of ONE Championship’s March 25 event, where he will face ONE flyweight kickboxing World Champion Superlek Kiatmoo9 (watch it live and free on 7plus).
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Destiny calling ONE flyweight kickboxer Danial Williams.
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Williams was originally scheduled to meet Rui Botelho at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, but the No.5-ranked strawweight will now step up from his natural division for a crack at the Thai superstar’s flyweight kickboxing crown.
Early beginnings in Thailand
This opportunity didn’t fall on the 29-year-old’s lap out of nowhere. He has embarked on a long journey to find his place in the world and ultimately ascend to the upper echelon of combat sports.
Williams was born in Chiang Rai, Thailand, to a Thai mother and Australian father. However, his parents didn’t always support his passion for Muay Thai, despite it being the country’s national pastime.
Fighting was a route that had been taken before him by his uncle, a move that drew the ire of the family.
“They never loved (fighting). My uncle was always shunned by his dad, my granddad, just people in the family. They thought he was crazy,” he said.
“You know, they just wanted me to study and do a normal job and stuff like that.”
If someone can’t fit in with their own family, where could they possibly fit in?
Australian school days
Having relocated to Perth, Australia, when he was just a one-year-old, Williams followed his schoolmates into football in search of community.
But the going was tough in those circles as well.
“As a kid, I was feeling different because I wanted to be this white Australian footy player. That’s what all my mates were,” he recalled.
“I guess I was the different kid at school. There weren’t too many mixed-race people, and I hated the comments on the footy field.”
Williams was a shy kid, a trait that carried all the way through to adulthood as the Khao Sok Muay Thai representative headed to university to study criminology.
Life on campus also proved tough, as Williams struggled to muster the courage to engage in everyday conversations.
“I was a super shy kid – super shy. I had a group of friends that I was comfortable with, but I just couldn’t try and get a girlfriend. I was petrified of girls. I couldn’t speak to them even if my life depended on it. So, it was quite challenging in high school and just making connections like that,” he said.
“I was always by myself. I couldn’t even ask the teachers for help, which is pretty crazy. (I was) super, super shy.”
Looking for a place to fit in
The daily struggle was due in part to the pressures of his family, but largely because he felt uncomfortable in his own skin.
“I just didn’t belong anywhere. I didn’t have a group which I could identify with. There wasn’t this half-Thai, Australian group,” he said.
“I always felt weird on Australia Day. I’m not exactly Australian, and then (going) to Thailand, it’s like you’re not exactly Thai, either.”
The personality that Williams describes is a far cry from the affable character that appears on TV screens across the globe today.
Williams’ face lights up as he begins to discuss his path through martial arts.
After taking up taekwondo at age 7, the Muay Thai leg of his journey started when he was 10. He then progressed to an in-ring debut at just 15 years old.
A pivotal moment in martial arts
The No.5 ranked strawweight credits martial arts as a key component to the turnaround in his fortunes. Muay Thai liberated him from the shyness and family pressures that had plagued him in his youth.
“Martial arts is a massive confidence-building platform because you start to step out of your comfort zone massively, physically and mentally,” he said.
“Martial arts is one of my lifesavers, I suppose. It gives me passion and drive and made me understand myself better.”
That platform has not only equipped Williams with a newfound confidence in himself, but also the skills to lock horns with the very best fighters on the planet.
As his fighting career progressed and the titles began to adorn the family home, Williams’ parents found an appreciation for Muay Thai as they started to see the changes in their son.
“It’s cool [that they’ve gone] from hating it to actually getting behind me. So, I’m in a good place with that,” he said.
“I always see and chat about it when I see [my uncle] now in Thailand. He just asked me about my fights, and it’s cool seeing my uncle. He’s always trying to give me techniques and tips on what I should do.”
Chance of a lifetime
With the fruits of his labour now just days away from being shown on a global scale once again, Williams jets off to Singapore with the full support of his family as well as the Thai and Australian public – two nationalities that he once felt disconnected from.
He plans to not only put on a show live on 7plus, but also snatch the flyweight kickboxing strap from one of the most feared strikers on the planet in Superlek.
“You don’t get these shots every day. So, I’m just going to make sure I put on a really brilliant show and just show that I am a true martial artist with no fear,” he said.
“I just want to show how hard I’ve been working for this, and I don’t want to let it slip away now.”
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