Downey fighter, 17, wins third Muay Thai title

Muay Thai champion Jonathan O’Neill. Photo by William Odis Martin

Muay Thai champion Jonathan O’Neill. Photo by William Odis Martin

DOWNEY – Jonathan O’Neill is the newest North American WBC Muay Thai (under 18) champion after his most recent victory in Arizona.

At just 17 years old, O’Neill already holds three championship belts in Muay Thai.

Muay Thai is a form of martial arts that consists of stand-up striking using feet, shins, elbows, and fists.The combat sport that has been affectionately regarded as the Art of Eight Limbs, originated in South Eastern Asia, in countries near Myanmar and Thailand sometime in the 1700s.

Thai military and Buddhist monks alike have been practicing the martial art for centuries before it made its way to the US. There you will find the best Muay Thai fighters in the world so O’Neill made the pilgrimage to Thailand in August to put his skills to the ultimate test.

Although he lost the fight, he gained priceless experience and learned what it will take to be a champion.

“That helped tremendously. I realized how good the competition is globally,” said O’Neill. “The guy I fought swept me about four times too and ever since then I was determined to be able to sweep as well as he did.

Photo by William Odis Martin.

Photo by William Odis Martin.

“While I was there I watched hundreds of fights and saw their style and now I try to mix their style with mine, like the lead leg fighting. In America, you can’t find anyone on that skill level to try to emulate so I watch my fight in Thailand all the time so I can fight like the guy that beat me in Thailand because his style obviously works.”

It definitely was his edge in his championship fight. O’Neill had impressive sweeps that kept putting his opponent on his back. His brutal attack on the lead leg dominated the match by physically and mentally chopping his opponent down.

O’Neill improved his record to 7-1 overall and plans to defend the title sometime in early January or February. In just a few weeks he will go back to Arizona to compete in a Muay Thai tournament.

The young champion credits the support of his father, Eric O’Neill, his coach and mentor Isaias Nambo, and the rest of the team at King Cobra in Downey for pushing him to the max every day so that fight nights come easier.