How Will You Be Remembered?
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I saw my teacher, Kru Yodtong Senanan, for the last time in early 2013 when we pushed his casket into the crematorium for cremation. When I was a kid around 30 years ago, he took me under his wing to teach me the art of Muay Thai. It was very difficult to know that I would never see him again. Thousands of people from all over Thailand (and even around the world) flocked to his funeral to pay respect to one of the greatest legends in history. Without a doubt, he gave this world far more than he ever received from it. He developed the most beautiful, technical style of Muay Thai. He produced the most number of Muay Thai World Champions in history. He helped thousands of orphans and underprivileged children lead a better life. He changed the world.
He died as he had lived most of his life – penniless. He was not penniless because he lived a materialistic life. He was not penniless because he couldn’t make any money. He was not penniless because he had bad luck. He was penniless simply because he always chose to give everything he had to those less fortunate than himself. His generosity was the definition of the human spirit born free.
I will share a true story about Kru Yodtong Senanan that is well-known all over Thailand. This story best captures who my teacher, Kru Yodtong, was as a human being. Several years ago, Kru Yodtong won US$2 million in the lottery in Thailand. People from all over the region flocked to Sityodtong Camp and he proceeded to give away all of his winnings – one by one – based on each stranger’s individual story of need and poverty. He listened to each story and he gave out what he thought was an appropriate amount to each person. For a few days straight, Sityodtong Camp was a sea of people – literally. It was a crazy mad zoo. At the end of those few days, Kru Yodtong gave away everything he had even though he was poor himself.
His whole life was about giving to the world. He gave thousands of impoverished children and orphans an opportunity to change their lives through the art of Muay Thai. He not only taught all of his students how to fight, but he taught us how to live.
Success can never be measured by big houses, luxury cars, or fancy clothes. For me, greatness can only be measured by what you do for others. I don’t believe that we were put on this Earth just to live an easy, comfortable life. I believe that we were put on this Earth to unleash our potential so that we may give back to the world more than we receive. Thank you Kru for not only teaching me how to fight in the ring, but for teaching me how to live life. Until we meet again, I will do my best to honor your legacy.