ONE Championship

Smilla Sundell: What you need to know about the Muay Thai star

Muay Thai fighter Smilla Sundell is the youngest World Champion in ONE Championship history.

Combat Sports in childhood

Sundell was born in Stockholm, Sweden, where her mother, a chef, and father, a photographer, reared her and her younger sister.

She began participating in combat sports as a child, despite the fact that it was originally designed for protection.

Sundell had her first taste of Muay Thai by coincidence years later while on holiday with her family.

Nevertheless, while it sparked her interest, she didn't expect anything to come of it.

“I tried Muay Thai on a holiday when I was 10 or 11 years old, but it was only for two days so it was nothing. We found out about it because one night we were watching some fights. I got a brochure about a Muay Thai gym [at the event], and the next day, we went there. The first time I saw it. I was a bit scared. But I thought it was inspiring and fun as well. And winning also looked fun,” she recalled in an interview with ONE Championship.

Sundell's family went to Thailand, the source of the furious striking art, shortly after her first encounter with "the art of eight limbs."

That meant leaving the Nordic weather of Stockholm for the tropical climate of Koh Samui, and "The Hurricane" relished the change.

Yet, the shift brought about significant changes in Sundell's life.

Without her normal interests in Sweden, the Swedish sought to find something else to do, which lead her to Thailand's national sport.

The surprise debut fight

"The Hurricane" persevered with her new interest, and despite her obvious talent, she had no plans to compete.

Sundell's parents, in fact, signed her up for her maiden match with little notice - and the 12-year-old Swedish was not impressed.

Some fighters fall in love with competition right away and can't wait to feel the excitement of conflict again.

Sundell was not one of them. She assumed the sport would remain a hobby, but once she saw what she was capable of doing - even against expert opponents - there was no turning back.

“After my first fight, I was okay because I won, but I still like didn’t really like it. It took like three fights to figure out that I was good at it and I wanted to continue. Because I liked training, but fighting at the beginning was not my plan, and I did not like it,” she said.

In fact, "The Hurricane" despises losing so much that her first setback served as the impetus for her unwavering dedication to Muay Thai.

Such perseverance paid off, as the Swedish superstar went on to become the world's #1-ranked women's featherweight by WBC Muaythai, defeating elite Thai fighter Sawsing Sor. Sopit at the age of 16.

Being inspired by Stamp Fairtex

"The Hurricane" competed 30 times while residing on Koh Samui, but competition chances in the area quickly became limited.

She understood she needed to join a world-renowned Muay Thai gym to advance her career, and it was a ONE Championship superstar who encouraged that change in October 2019.

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“I watched a lot of Stamp [Fairtex]’s fights in ONE Championship and saw her train at Fairtex and was inspired by her. I wanted to be like her,” Sundell said.

The 17-year-old now has a close relationship with Stamp and is following in her idol's footsteps by pursuing World Championship gold in the all-powerful ONE Super Series.

Sundell won her opportunity at the women's strawweight title in February with a stunning debut victory over Diandra Martin and the rest is history.