Women And Fighter Jets
There are no limits to what you can achieve. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. Greatness lives in all of us.
This week, a 24 year old fighter jet pilot named Avani Chaturvedi shattered a major glass ceiling by becoming the first woman in India to fly a fighter jet solo. India is a beautiful country with an incredible history (and one of my favorite countries in the world), but it has also struggled with gender inequality issues. In many parts of India, women cannot leave their homes past 10pm out of fear of violence and rape. In this context, Avani’s achievement is even more remarkable. A few days ago, she flew a MiG-21 Bison, one of the fastest fighter jets in the world. It has a high altitude top speed of 2,175 kilometers per hour, and carries air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and 1,100 pounds bombs. Make no mistake. The MiG-21 Bison is a war machine, and Avani Chaturvedi is a fighter jet pilot. She is a hero who is ready and able to defend her country. You are incredible, Avani. Thank you for inspiring me with your courage!
In many ways, this story reminds me of ONE Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee. She was just 19 years old when she won the world title, making her the youngest World Champion in history for any global martial arts organization. I received a lot of hate mail for making her one of the highest paid athletes – male or female – in ONE Championship because she was a woman. For me, it should not matter if you are male or female. If you are genuinely the best in the world at what you do, then you should get paid like the best. More importantly though, we should all celebrate her courage and her strength. Angela showed the world that we are ONE; it’s not about age, gender, religion, race, or anything else. It is about humanity. After that victory, I made the decision as CEO to make Angela Lee the face of ONE Championship. She is a real-life superhero who has integrity, humility, honor, respect, discipline, courage, and compassion. Angela is a hero to millions of little girls around the world, and an inspiration to everyone. She showed the world that nothing is impossible. Because of Angela, millions of girls now dream of becoming CEOs, Prime Ministers, astronauts, doctors, VPs, World Champions, and more.
I think deeply about my responsibility to the world as the CEO of Asia’s largest global sports media property. Through our real-life superheroes, ONE Championship has the power to shape values and impact culture at global scale across our 138 countries. We influence what children think is cool, how little boys treat little girls, how kids treat their parents, how teenagers behave, and so much more. I always tell my team that one of my biggest barometers of success is the poster effect. When a child puts a poster of Angela Lee in his/her bedroom, I want parents to know that their children are in good hands with a hero who has values of integrity, humility, honor, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion. I want grandparents to smile and embrace their grandchildren for choosing one of our superheroes as their role model in life. You see, unlike some of our global competitors, I care deeply about how my team and I impact the world. I am not interested in promoting athletes who commit felonies, espouse hatred, beat up women, take cocaine, trash religions, disrespect families, and more. No, I started ONE Championship to ignite the world with hope, strength, dreams, and inspiration. I started ONE Championship as a celebration of Asia’s greatest cultural treasure. I started ONE Championship to make the world a better place in my small and humble way.
Let us all be fearless in the pursuit of our greatness. Avani and Angela are great examples for the world on how to live with courage and love in our hearts. We have, but one life. Let’s make it count.
Chatri Sityodtong is a self-made entrepreneur and lifelong martial artist from Thailand. His rags-to-riches life story has inspired millions around the world on BBC News, CNN, Financial Times, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Channel NewsAsia, and other major media. He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property in history with a global broadcast to over 1.7 billion potential viewers across 136 countries around the world. Forbes most recently selected Sityodtong as one of Asia’s next generation tycoons. He was also named “Asia’s King of Martial Arts” by the Financial Times and the “3rd Most Powerful Person in Sports in Asia” by FOX Sports. He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, Europe’s top business school. Sityodtong holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Tufts University.