Liam Harrison on having bottles thrown at him in Italy and betting on himself in Thailand — The Muay Thai icon recaps his crazy road to ONE 167

As he evaded the bottles launched in his direction from rowdy Italian fans, an anxious Liam Harrison stood helplessly in enemy territory, praying the world title he’d just earned in the ring wouldn’t be swept out from beneath his feet.

Blessed with fighting spirit and an unrelenting will to win, ‘The Hitman’ has travelled the globe, challenging himself against the greatest Muay Thai fighters on the planet, and picking up a plethora of illustrious belts in the process.

Renowned for his explosive power and ferocious engine, the English titan has garnered a huge reputation, with ONE Championship taking massive delight in giving fans an opportunity to enjoy his all-action performances.

But while the world is now privy to what the warrior is capable of, during his early years, he fought tooth and nail to keep his dream alive, regularly fighting in front of hostile crowds to claim the titles his talent deserved.

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Liam Harrison was born for Muay Thai

Growing up in Leeds, UK, the natural athlete quickly gravitated towards Muay Thai, falling in love with ‘The Art of Eight Limbs’ and never looking back.

His first fight came at the age of 14, just a day after he watched his 19-year-old opponent drive off in a Golf GTI. Ultimately, the age gap didn’t matter—Harrison still won via KO.

With his affection for the craft growing deeper, the sportsman set his sights on making a career for himself, refusing to acknowledge the concerns of an English teacher who told him he’d never make it.

Proving the naysayers wrong, by 19, the spartan was ready for the big time, travelling to Italy to fight for world honours. However, his time in the beautiful European country didn’t exactly go according to plan, with his rival getting away with missing weight by a huge margin. And to make matters worse, the organisers insisted on keeping the viewers in the dark to ensure the product wouldn’t look bad for TV.

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Liam Harrison had bottles thrown at him during his first world title fight in Italy

While the situation rendered Harrison furious, he decided to go ahead with the contest, believing he could ‘mash this guy up anyway’, which, of course, he did. But unsurprisingly, that didn’t please the Italians too much, with some of the more raucous members of the crowd throwing bottles in the victor’s direction.

In an exclusive interview with Sporf, Harrison revealed: “I was young and arrogant at the time, so I didn’t think about the consequences of what would happen when someone that heavy punched me in the face.

“He was a dynamite puncher. After the first round, I sat down in the corner and I said ‘F**k’. My coach said, ‘Keep your hands up and when he goes to punch, smash his legs to pieces’. I stopped him in round four with leg kicks.

“I kicked him across his legs, and he said, ‘No more’ and turned around. The referee didn’t stop it, so I thought, ‘F**k this’. I ran across the ring and booted him up his a**e as hard as I could.

“Then, the referee started kicking off. I said, ‘You should have stepped in’. The crowd was booing and throwing bottles. My mum and dad were in the front row pretending to be Italian.

“I asked the ref if I’d won, and he said, ‘Disqualified’. I said, ‘F**k off’. Then, all the judges came together, had a chat, and raised my hand. It was a bit of a crazy one.”

The epic moment made all the hard work worthwhile. No matter how tough the journey had been, Harrison refused to give up on his dream, always maintaining his faith that he had the minerals to scale the Muay Thai mountain.

Liam Harrison bet on himself in Thailand to keep his combat sports aspirations alive

When the combat sports icon wrapped his first world title around his waist, he took a moment to reflect on the crazy adventure he’d taken to get there. Moving to Thailand while still just a teenager was never going to be easy, but through grit and determination, he made the risk one worth taking.

Driven by the love of the game rather than the money, Harrison lived fight to fight, even placing wagers on himself to ensure he could continue chasing his goal.

He explained: “I used to bet on myself to bump my money up. I wasn’t getting paid that much, and I didn’t want to go home. There was a fight where I bet my entire purse on myself, and I lost.”

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He continued: “I had no money, and I was banged up. I could either go back home with my tail between my legs or fight on. My coach said, ‘What are you going to do’? I replied, ‘I need to fight again’. He said, ‘I’ve already booked you one in three days’.

“Luckily, I knocked the guy out. I paid my rent, and I could stay longer. It was crazy. Sometimes, I was fighting twice a week. I have loads of life experiences and stories during that time.”

Liam Harrison is ready to put on a show at ONE 167

Having given his all to the craft, the British legend is finally reaping the rewards of his labour.

Determined to take the sport to new heights, ONE Championship is going above and beyond to give Muay Thai the platform it deserves.

The popular promotion is growing the discipline at a remarkable rate, with the Leeds hero scheduled to return to competition at ONE 167 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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With Jonathan Haggerty currently holding the world title in his weight class, Harrison is determined to produce a showing worthy of setting up the biggest British Muay Thai bout in history.

However, there’s one man, who’s more than capable of ruining those plans. Katsuki Kitano is a dangerous striker, famed for his thunderous head kicks. Therefore, to move one step closer to the championship fight he so desperately craves, Harrison knows he must deliver nothing short of a career-best performance.

UK fans can watch the eagerly anticipated clash at ONE 167 live on Sky Sports in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Featured Image Credit: One Championship