ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan “The General” Haggerty will defend his belt for the first time against Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August in Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Haggerty grew up in a rough part of Orpington where most of his friends ended up in prison. Not wanting the same fate, he decided to take a different path, which led him to become a well-accomplished mixed martial artist.
“It was kind of rough in my area. Either you went one way or the other – you went the bad route or the good route,” he explained.
“I was always good at observing whatever people did wrong. I’d see the consequences and think to myself, ‘I don’t want them.’
“I’d see how people went through life, and they struggled because they chose the [bad] route. I thought, ‘Maybe if I go the other side, I’ll grow up, and I won’t struggle,’” he added.
As a young lad, Haggerty had a tight-knit of friends that he went to school and played football with. But his peers got influenced by the streets and entered a world of crime and corruption and were eventually put behind bars.
“I know a few people that made the wrong choices, and now they’re in prison. I tried to get them to come down the good route, but you can’t force people to do what they don’t want to do,” he said.
“I still speak to them, but hopefully they come out on the right side. They’re my good friends, but obviously, I’ve learned and I’ve observed.”
Haggerty started learning Muay Thai from his father at the age of seven. The sport kept him away from all the distractions and temptations. He had his first bout a year later, and then at the age of 12, started competing at the amateur level where he quickly earned wins.
“[Muay Thai] kept me busy, that was the main thing really. If I wasn’t busy, my mind would be elsewhere. Who knows where I would have ended up without the gym, my father, and my family,” he explained.
“It wasn’t really that strict – I would go to parties – the main thing was just making time for training and being dedicated. It was tough, but I was always smart. I always had my head screwed on, and today, it shows.”
The Team Underground athlete is thankful for martial arts. Instead of living a life of misery and regret, he chose a life of discipline, honor, and integrity. That’s why Haggerty is putting up a school in London to share that opportunity with others and put kids in a position to succeed as well.
“It was tough, but that’s where my dad stepped in, and with his guidance, I went down the right path, which I’m very thankful for today,” he concluded.
“[Prison] was not a position I wanted to be in. The position I’m in now is where I want to be.”