December 4, 2022

Team Lakay, once Asia’s best mixed martial arts team, has been greatly influenced by boxing legend, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.

Team Lakay Chair Mark Sangiao has counted the ways Pacquiao had influenced his team, saying the fighting senator, who has just resigned from boxing, is truly a one-of-a-kind athlete.

“I have met Pacquiao several times in different occasions like in sports conventions and events as well as in public hearings,” Sangiao reminisced.

Though Pacquiao has gone to public service at the latter part of his boxing career, what stood out for Sangiao was the senator’s humility. “He’s very amiable. At his current life and career status, you can still feel that raw humbleness in him.”

“What endears me the most to him was his rags-to-riches story, that you can be someone even if you came from nothing if you really want to, and still keep that attitude amidst all the success that you have accomplished,” Sangiao added.

Truth be told, Pacquiao’s success was also a fuel for Team Lakay in their formative years of competing abroad, with Sangiao using him as a motivation for his fighters to do well whenever they fight.

“Don’t get me wrong, when we fight abroad, we are more driven to give our best to serve as an inspiration to our young athletes and people to dream as well and achieve. But having Manny as our inspiration is really big for us because we want to emulate the glory he brought to our country,”Sangiao recalled.

The decorated mentor even attributed Pacquiao’s resilience as a big lesson which his fighters have absorbed over the years.

As much as Pacquiao has etched his name among boxing’s legends, Team Lakay has also done its part in the world of mixed martial arts, and at one point had four champions under its stable led by two-time ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang.

Other Baguio-based fighters have followed suit, from former world champions Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, to the reigning ONE strawweight world champion Joshua Pacio.

The curtain, however, has closed for Pacquiao’s boxing career as he announced his decision to retire last week.

For Sangiao, he deeply respects Pacquiao’s decision, as he claimed it was a great run for the senator’s boxing career nonetheless, and he chooses to look back on the latter’s legacy as proving to everyone that with enough drive and effort, one’s dreams can become a reality. –  Harley F. Palangchao