Stergos Mikkios is no stranger to adversity as long before he first laced a pair of Muay Thai gloves however, Mikkios was already battling the odds.
At the age of six, “The Greek Dynamite” Mikkios was sent to an orphanage in Greece after his parents split up.
At 11 years old, he was forced to move back to his birthplace of the United States and live with his grandparents after the orphanage he was living in closed down.
Even before all of that, an accident involving boiling hot soup left Mikkios scalded and scarred.
It was those scars that provided mean-spirited children the ammunition that they needed to torment Mikkios growing up.
“I was bullied a lot growing up. I had to learn to stand up for myself,” Mikkios shared in an interview with ONE Championship’s official website (ONEFC.com). “I was made fun of through my entire school years with those scars.”
Mikkios bared that it was that oppression that ultimately taught him how to fend for himself.
“I had to sort of carry myself with some dignity, and fight for my respect. A lot of kids made fun of me. I had visual scars that led to kids bullying me. I grew up with bullies. I grew up by fighting for myself just to get some respect. That is what made me a fighter,” he recalled.
While the struggle began at an early age for Mikkios, it was not until 2012 that he found his way into martial arts. By that time, he was a 22-year-old man.
After seeing mixed martial arts on the television, he found the motivation to visit Thornton Martial Arts in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Immediately, Mikkios fell in love with martial arts, especially Muay Thai.
“I saw the Rocky movies my entire life, and then I saw mixed martial arts on television, and I got interested in it,” he explained. “I figured I should give it a try. There was nothing I could lose. I had nothing going on. I tried martial arts, and I fell in love. Ever since 2012, I have been grinding.”
It was his love affair with the martial art known as “The art of eight limbs” that gave his life purpose and direction.
Mikkios eventually left his job and relocated to Thailand to dedicate his life to training and competing in Muay Thai.
The dedication appears to have paid off, and in just six years of training, Mikkios has already amassed an impressive 19-9-2 professional Muay Thai record as well as a handful of championships, including the American Kickboxing Federation championship, Friday Night Fights Muay Thai championship and most notably the Triumph Kombat Championship.
After competing mainly in the United States, Mikkios took his talents to the global stage through the highly-acclaimed ONE Super Series.
In his ONE Championship debut, Mikkios encountered a stern test in the form of Serbian Lion Fight World Champion Ognjen Topic.
Mikkios’ debut did not go as he would have hoped, with Topic cruising to a unanimous decision victory.
Now, much like he has done all his life, Mikkios is setting himself up for another comeback as he tries to record his first win on the ONE Super Series stage.
The 28-year old Muay Thai practitioner makes his return to the ONE Championship ring against hometown hero Han Zi Zao in a ONE Super Series bantamweight Muay Thai bout at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON on Saturday, 8 September at the Baoshan Arena in Shanghai, China.
Against the more experienced Han, who will also have the hometown crowd advantage in Shanghai, Mikkios is once again the underdog, and that is nothing foreign to the Greek striker, who has made a name for himself by defying the odds.
“What I am really proud of is that I have always been the underdog since the beginning,” he proudly exclaimed. “I have been facing big-name amateur athletes, and no one knew who I was, and that is how I got known in the United States. For me, it was just going after all these big names with big records, and showing what I really had.”