Among the international talent who competed in Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series 7 in August, Bryan Tee stood out as the sole Singaporean representative.
Tee’s quest to strive for national glory in Muay Thai began at an early age.
During his childhood, the Eminent Air Muay Thai product got into frequent scuffles with his brother. Their friendly sibling rivalry prompted him to explore “the art of eight limbs” for self-defense.
“There weren’t a lot of gyms then, but I saw one at the community club, so I signed up to train,” Tee recalled. “The training was too little for me, so I started to train on my own. I filled up a duffel bag with soybeans to act as a punching bag at home.”
As he devoted himself to training, the Singaporean quickly developed a passion for the national sport of Thailand.
At 15 years old, he traveled to Thailand to train and compete. He often lost and absorbed more than just a few hard hits, but Tee gained a wealth of experience.
“I was going against guys that were older than me, and who had fought more than me,” Tee said. “Some even competed in the pro ranks in Thailand.”
After a month, the Muay Thai specialist returned to Singapore and diligently applied his newfound knowledge to training.
His hard work paid off. Tee defeated an older and more experienced opponent in his next match. Scouts for the Singapore Muay Thai Team were so impressed by his performance that they picked him to join the national squad.
“After I won against that guy back in Singapore – he was 31 and I was just 17 – they selected me to be part of the national team,” Tee said. “That was an unforgettable moment.”
As a representative of Singapore, Tee competed for the nation in the 2016 Asian Beach Games, 2016 IFMA World Youth Championships, and the FAMA Asian Championships. The young standout bagged silver in all three events.
Wanting to focus more on his professional career, Tee decided to leave the national team and sign with Asian Fighting Championships.
He wrapped up another victory against Pan Leong as his career moved upward.
Then, just as things were going good for the Singaporean, Tee had to undergo surgery to correct a heart anomaly he had since birth.
Although he was medically cleared to compete, Muay Thai silver medalist’s surgery saddled him with debt.
Fortunately, Tee’s parents continued to support him, especially his mother.
“My mom was actually the person who first brought me to look for Muay Thai gyms back when I started,” Tee said.
“Luckily, she supports me now while I train and work part-time at Eminent Air Muay Thai gym. The life of a professional fighter can be difficult sometimes, so I am thankful she is here.”
With his mother in his corner, Tee regained confidence and resumed training. He began to improve in competitions, which drew the attention of long-time friends and teammates at Eminent Air Muay Thai.
They contacted Rich Franklin, CEO of ONE Warrior Series, and managed to secure a spot for Tee on the show.
The Singaporean representative competed on ONE Warrior Series 7, but he lost against Malaysia’s Lehe. Although the loss was difficult to bear, it is just another challenge the young lion knows he will overcome.
From having defeated older and vastly more experienced opponents to battling back from heart surgery and losses, Tee is no stranger to adversity.
The Muay Thai prodigy is more determined than ever to realize his dreams of becoming a World Champion.
“All I want to prove is that Singaporeans can do it too, and I want to become a World Champion,” Tee declared. “It’s like what Manny Pacquiao did for Philippines – he became a World Champion and a man for the people there.”
With ONE Super Series, Tee’s chances can come no sooner. ONE Super Series brings together the best strikers in different stand-up martial arts to compete on the global stage.
The Singaporean longs for a debut in ONE Super Series Muay Thai, and he knows the best way there lies through ONE Warrior Series.
If he makes good on his next matches and impresses the OWS brass, Tee could earn himself a contract on ONE Championship’s main roster.
“It’s a big step for me – and my first step. It’s a tough walk, but I’m really excited to have this opportunity to fight in Muay Thai,” Tee said. “I’m going all in. It’s sink or swim but I’m ready for this.”
Check out ONE Championship’s next event, ONE: CENTURY, the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events in one day.
But The Home Of Martial Arts breaks new ground as it features 28 World Champions, four World Title bouts, three World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and four World Champion versus World Champion matches.
The action happens at the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan on 13 October in Tokyo, Japan.
Download the ONE Super App to catch all the action live and for free.
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