ONE FC Bantamweight Champion Fabricio Andrade is an embodiment of the word “inspiration”. The 26-year-old Brazilian is a picture of confidence and success. But beneath the hubris is a man who overcame many obstacles to reach the heights where he is today.
The youngest son of three siblings, Andrade’s father sold watches in the market and his mother worked as a cook. “Wonder Boy” described his impoverished upbringing to ONE FC: “It was always very difficult for me to talk about my childhood. My family and I were very poor.”
Despite being hard up, Andrade said that his parents always ensured that the children did not lack basic necessities and had a respectable upbringing. The struggles he experienced as a child created in him a toughness and determination that he would channel into his martial arts career.
Fabricio Andrade’s troubled childhood and lack of direction
But poverty wasn’t the only thing standing in the way of Andrade’s success. His dangerous neighborhood in Fortaleza, Brazil, didn’t offer many prospects to youth with aspirations. Crime was abundant and it was easy to be led astray or worse, as he admits:
“I’ve had a lot of bad things in my life. There are gangs, criminal factions, and drug dealers, so I grew up seeing people die in front of me. I saw friends die, teenagers who were my age at the time taking their own lives. It was a very traumatic childhood for me.”
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This bleak environment almost destroyed his self-esteem and left him doubting his purpose in life: “I suffered a lot from inferiority problems. Coming from a very simple family and not being able to have what I wanted, I remember that at various times I felt hopeless, not knowing what my future would be.”
Things took a turn for the better when a friend introduced him to Muay Thai. Andrade was captivated by the attention and respect his friend received when he fought. Bitten by the bug, he gave up his dreams of being a footballer and dedicated himself to his new-found passion.
The previously unconfident Andrade’s efforts paid off. His success earned him the praise of his peers and the direction that he was desperate for: “I started to get good at Muay Thai. Everyone praised me, and it motivated me every day. The sport changed my life. It was my one life goal. Until I started, I was lost. I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going.”
Andrade had found his calling, but a new set of hardships were just beginning. Due to a lack of fights in Brazil, he was forced to move to China aged just 20. He calls it “one of the worst times” in his life because he didn’t know anyone there except for a manager. Alone and penniless, he found himself living in a gym unable to speak to anyone because he knew neither English nor Chinese.
Still, he persevered and was soon rewarded with a contract with ONE Championship. The hungry young Tiger Muay Thai product ran through five opponents before earning a shot at the Bantamweight Championship against UFC veteran John Lineker. The fight ended in a disappointing no contest as an unintentional low blow rendered Lineker unable to continue.
Andrade would get a shot at redemption a few months later. The ferocious upstart battered the tough-as-nails veteran to the point where his corner threw in the towel. After years of trials and tribulations, Fabricio Andrade had conquered the summit and was crowned ONE Bantamweight Champion this February.
Wonderboy’s story is a time-honored tale of rags to riches. The once-dejected young man gives hope to others going through similar ordeals with these encouraging words: “If you believe in your heart, do what has to be done. Because at some point things will work out. We plant today to harvest tomorrow.”
Andrade will attempt to become a two-sport champion when he faces Jonathan Haggerty for the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship on November 4, 2023 at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.