Everyone on the planet knows Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino boxing legend has become much more than a boxer in his country and to his legion of fans across the world.
Pacquiao’s greatness and moral qualities have made him an inspiration to many people. Among the people Pacquiao has inspired are his countrymen who train in mixed martial arts at Team Lakay in the Philippines.
The training camp has become a hotbed for local mixed martial arts talent. As each of them was inspired by Pacquiao, they are now doing the same for young Filipinos and people all around the world.
He’s only 23 years old, but Joshua Pacio is already a three-time ONE Strawweight World Champion. Despite his young age, Pacio has previously taught fans a few things. Pacio has had to demonstrate some resilience in his career. After briefly losing his title to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio came back in the rematch to score a knockout win over his Japanese opponent.
Rather than allowing himself to get too down after the loss, he was able to bounce back. Pacio has shown this ability to bounce back on multiple occasions. In fact, he has avenged all but one of three losses in his career.
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Manila You Are Awesome!😃 First of all I would like to thank My Lord Jesus Christ for keeping us safe and giving us the strength🙏🏻 To my team and family @teamlakaymma , to Coach @marksangiao , my seniors and teammates thank you so much for all your sacrifices and time for helping me train for this bout. To my family, Dacalle Clan, Cpch Family and to my teachers im school thank you so much😊🙏🏻 To all our sponsors, to all the people who got our back since day one, even in our ups and downs youve been their for us, words cant express our gratitude 🙏🏻 To @onechampionship Family and to sir @yodchatri thnk you so much for inspiring us and for bringing out the best in us🙏🏻 To my friend @yosukesaruta thank you very much for the experience,for making me a better athlete🙏🏻 Our journey does not end here,watch out coz we’re collecting them belts again💪🏻🔥 #TeamLakay #OneChampionship #OneEliteAthlete #OneEliteAgency #MartialArts #ThePassion #AndNew #WorldChamp #Mma #Philippines #Cordillera #Baguio #Benguet #WeAreBack
While Pacio has been building this impressive resume in the ONE Circle, he’s also been a college student. Many professionals in the world are faced with balancing the duties and responsibilities of work and school.
While Pacio’s job is anything but ordinary, this dynamic still provides a quality that others can relate to. That’s an essential factor when it comes to inspiration.
Kevin Belingon is another martial artist who has had to bounce back from losses. “The Silencer” ultimately captured the ONE Bantamweight World Championship he sought with an upset win over the legendary Bibiano Fernandes in late 2018. That meeting was their second. Fernandes has blown Belingon away in their initial meeting.
Belingon is always up for a challenge, and he immediately met Fernandes in what was designed to be a rubber match. Belingon lost when he was disqualified for an accidental blow to the back of Fernandes’ head.
Their fourth match held recently in Japan ended decisively with a rear-naked choke victory from Fernandes. Despite losing, yet again, Belingon is already preparing for his journey in a bid for another title shot.
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Before his career, Belingon survived one of the scariest situations one can imagine.
“I had a terrible experience when I was four years old,” Belingon recalled.
“Bandits attacked our place. Our father needed to evacuate us to an empty tank. So we spent the night there until the disturbance subsided. At the time, I didn’t understand what was happening, but I could hear the gunshots. I was very scared, and of course, my family was as well.
“That incident made me stronger, and it made me a better person today. My father made a big sacrifice. He put himself in a dangerous position. He evacuated us to a safer place, and then he went back to guard the house.
“That was the bravest thing that my father did at that time. I learned a lot of things from him. My father is a big inspiration to me.”
This story is both harrowing and frightening, but the survival instincts from Belingon’s father, and Kevin’s ability to see the positives are admirable.
You’ll be hard-pressed finding any athlete from any region of the world with a more remarkable story than Eduard Folayang. Yes, “Landslide” has rebuilt his professional career with ONE Championship after some trying times early on in his journey.
Folayang has had to shake off several tough losses with ONE Championship. He’s been finished by Martin Nguyen, Shinya Aoki, and Eddie Alvarez. Obviously, those athletes are elite, but Folayang has reached a point in his career where he expects to win against all opponents. Folayang’s ascension from Team Lakay has been an inspiration to all who have followed him from the esteemed group.
Before he turned professional, Folayang endured unspeakable tragedy in his family.
“When I was young, my mother told me that five of my siblings passed away,” Folayang said.
“I was already in my elementary years when my mother told me about it. Their ages were a bit far from each other when we lost them. I think the eldest was 7, the other was 5, another was only a year old, while the other two were stillborn.”
When you combine this hardship with the poverty Folayang and his family had to survive, it’s tough to ever feel sorry for yourself. Folayang handles everything publicly with grace. Win or lose, he maintains the same kind of demeanor, sportsmanship, and honor.
All the while, he remains one of the hardest-working, toughest martial artists you’ll find with any promotion. Folayang’s mixed martial arts game isn’t perfect. If it was, he might not be as charismatic.
If there is such a thing as the Manny Pacquiao of mixed martial arts, it’s Folayang.