Like many of his peers in ONE Championship, Rodtang Jitmuangnon felt the death of beloved referee Watcharin “Paopom” Ratchaniphon on a deeply personal level.
Ahead of his ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title defense against Superlek Kiatmoo9 at ONE Friday Fights 34 on September 22, “The Iron Man” opened up about the shocking loss of his friend and colleague.
“Paopom” took his own life in June, and with September being Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Rodtang shared his thoughts on the terrible circumstances.
He told onefc.com:
“‘Paopom’s’ tragic death is a great loss for the Muay Thai community. Personally, I feel so sorry that we lost a good referee and man like him.”
Ratchaniphon was the first Thai referee in ONE history and was universally liked and respected by fighters, fans, and coworkers.
Rodtang last spoke to “Paopom” at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, where he’ll return to action against Superlek. With that in mind, “The Iron Man” reflected on their final interaction and the sadness he felt upon hearing the news shortly after:
“The day before his suicide, I went to watch the fights at the stadium, and I saw him doing his job in the ring. I also had a short talk with him, and suddenly, he passed away the next day.
“I feel deep sorrow for him. I wish he had another way to solve his problems rather than doing that.”
Rodtang Shares Thoughts On The Importance Of Mental Health
While Rodtang Jitmuangnon is no expert on mental health, he has endured difficult struggles in life that could have derailed his journey.
And while he can only speak to his own experience, the Thai hopes that others in tough situations can find the bright spots and continue to move forward.
“The Iron Man” offered:
“When I’m going through a tough time or hardships in my life, I try to encourage myself. I try not to aggravate my suffering. I can’t choose to be born with a silver spoon, but I can choose to live a good life.
“I try to be a positive-thinking person. It’s the biggest blessing for us to be born on the Earth.”
Making his plea to those who may be going through hard times, Rodtang called for them to chase what makes them happy over material objects.
Nobody knows when their time is up, and “The Iron Man” believes that every day is a gift that should be celebrated while that’s still possible.
“When you feel discouraged, I hope you can stand tall and fight.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire, but you can live your life the best you can. You don’t need to have a luxurious lifestyle. Enjoy the good moments of your life.
“You only know your birthday, but you never know the date of your death. As long as you’re breathing, try to do whatever it takes to make yourself as happy as possible.”