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MMA, esports, The Apprentice — Chatri's options in pandemic

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 26 March 2020 ()
He survived the Asian financial crisis, which wiped out entire economies and tore his family apart.

As his mixed martial arts promotions go audience free, One Championship founder Chatri Sityodtong says he's finding ways to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic that is shutting down sports around the globe.

Experiences seared into his psyche in the 1990s have equipped him to think outside the square.

His esports promotions are, Chatri says, a blessing. No need to be concerned about travel restrictions or social distancing policies there.

Then there's a new TV venture — The Apprentice: One Championship Edition. He bought the rights, and he's scanning the globe now for contestants. He politely fends off questions about getting any tips from Donald Trump, the long-time host of the American version.

And regardless, just as Chatri's style of mixed martial arts promotions differs in tone from the U.S.-based UFC, his spin on The Apprentice will be unique — a blend of mental and physical, character-testing challenges, a mix of fellow CE0s helping out as judges and his One Championship world champions involved at various stages.

“I argue that this apprentice will be the toughest in history because you have to pass all the business challenges, so you have to be super smart, but at the same time you have to pass all the physical challenges, which means you have to be super fit,” he said in a telephone interview from Singapore. “It should be fun.”

That show is for later in the year, though. For now, he's focusing on the MMA events in Singapore on April 17, 24, May 1 and 8, followed by promotions in the Philippines on May 29 and “Legendary Warriors” in Shanghai, China on June 20. The athletes aren't all in Singapore yet, but he's expecting to have everything...
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