Danial Williams was on his way up in ONE Championship’s strawweight division.
“Mini T” had been exciting in whatever discipline he participated in and was having good results to show for it. But last October, Jeremy Miado derailed his plans with a TKO victory.
However, it is not a loss that has deterred Williams. The Aussie will return to action at ONE Fight Night 8 on Prime Video on Friday, March 24, against Rui Butelho. And it is not even close to the biggest obstacle the rising star has had to overcome in life. In a recent interview with ONE, Williams recounted his struggles with social anxiety.
“I was a super shy kid. Super shy. I had a group of friends that I was comfortable with, but I just couldn’t, like, try and get a girlfriend. I was petrified of girls. I couldn’t speak to them even if my life depended on it. So it was quite challenging in high school and just making connections like that,” said “Mini T.” Even in class, Williams struggled. He would be so shy that asking for assistance from teachers was a struggle. He admitted that the shyness he suffered from helped to isolate him from his classmates. That isolation was not helped by the comments he would receive due to being half-Thai.
“As a kid, I was feeling different as well because I wanted to be this white Australian footy [soccer] player. That’s all my mates were, kind of thing. I guess I’m the different kid at school. There weren’t too many mixed-race people. And I hated the comments on the footy field, even though it wasn’t crazy. But it was just like the racist comments here and there,” said Williams.
No matter where Williams went, he felt isolated. When his family would return to Thailand, “Mini T” recounted being stared at by locals whenever they would go out. With his shy personality and social anxiety, Williams hated the attention.
Enter martial arts. The Aussie began to feel his confidence grow from training, making him better understand himself. The 29-year-old credited martial arts as a lifesaver by giving him passion and drive.
“Why do we fight? Is it because we’re so uncomfortable with ourselves that we like to endure that pain? I don’t know. It’s like saying my fighting style, especially earlier, was that because I was so uncomfortable with myself that I could get hit? I don’t know. Those thoughts crossed my mind. Maybe it was when I was a little bit uncomfortable myself,” said Williams.
“And it’s like, I didn’t love myself enough. That was an outlet for me that, just like, one, punish myself, but two, let that frustration out. Because you would be in your head a lot. And I feel like that’s what happens when you’re shy and nervous and anxious all the time. Like, it’s just a lot of built-up frustration, and you just need that release.”
Now on the global stage, Williams seems comfortable in the spotlight. As one of the most exciting athletes in the sport today, fans around the world become excited to see him make his way to the Circle to compete. That is why Williams tries to have an impact on anyone training in his gym. “I’m pretty good with just talking about things outside of fighting as well, and I mean, the martial arts and stuff, as well. So maybe saying something about the shirt they’re wearing. Trying to make these small conversations with them and then remember their names when they come in. That was what I always liked,” said Williams.
“When people remember you or remember something about you, then that’s a real confidence-building thing. It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m being seen. I’m not in the corner all the time.’”
ONE Fight Night 8 airs live at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on Friday, March 24, on Prime Video. The event airs for free to all U.S. and Canadian Amazon Prime subscribers.
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