Once-bullied K-1 World Champion Masaaki Noiri makes it life’s mission to inspire others

By BJPENN.COM Staff - May 21, 2024

Masaaki Noiri stands out for his prowess as a world-class kickboxer.

Masaaki Noiri

He makes his ONE debut in U.S. primetime on June 7 at ONE 167 on Prime Video. There, he takes on Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong in a featherweight kickboxing bout.

As he prepares for the clash at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Noiri remembers the path he walked during childhood. He endured bullying, and the scars of those experiences ran deep.

“I used to be bullied when I was little. In the second grade of elementary school, I was the second shortest in my class height-wise. The shortest kid would scratch me,” he said.

“The kids would also take me to the hallways in the school building and hit me. I didn’t do anything wrong though.”

A friend helped put an end to the torment. This halted the cycle of abuse and ignited his passion for martial arts.

“When I was being bullied, it was my middle brother’s friend who came to stop it. That friend did karate, so that’s how I got into it,” Noiri said.

At 7, he went to the gym, where discipline, respect, and self-defense guided him. His talent blossomed in karate. However, it was the transition to kickboxing that sent him toward greatness.

“Kickboxing was an extension of karate for me. I went full kickboxing in the second grade of middle school, then I started doing amateur kickboxing competitions,” he said.

By 13, kickboxing was his calling. But it demanded a willingness to confront his fears.

“Initially, I was just messing around and not really focused on martial arts. When I lost in the semifinals of a tournament, I was told, ‘If you don’t have the motivation, just quit!’ That made me determined to get my revenge,” he said.

Masaaki Noiri willing to help out fellow bullying victims

Reflecting on his journey from victim to victor, Masaaki Noiri wants to inspire others facing similar hardships.

“When I was bullied, I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it out of embarrassment, so I kept it to myself,” he said.

“I think there are kids all over the world in that same situation. I want to fight in a way that gives them courage when they watch me.”

This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM


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