By Jun Ray Navarres
Team Lakay head coach and founder Mark Sangiao has been mentoring and taking good care of the athletes in the stable way after he hung his gloves for good.
But now, he finds his biological son Jhanlo Mark Sangiao following his footsteps and test his mettle inside the international cage.
With the same blood running through their veins, Mark is just proud seeing his 18-year-old son elevate his game to ONE Championship early in his career.
“We’ve been preparing Jhanlo for this moment for many years and now, the wait is over. We are seeing Jhanlo join the roster of ONE Championship’s athletes,” said coach Mark.
“I never forced him to do MMA and I never told him not to. I left the decision up to him, to do what he wants and to navigate what he is really passionate about. And he found MMA, which made me more than proud.”
Being a former professional fighter and a father however, coach Mark couldn’t help his fatherly instincts to kick in whenever he sees his son fight.
“When our fighters fight, I see them as professional athletes and I am their coach. That is our relationship and this applies to everyone,” said the elder Sangiao.
“But the only thing with Jhanlo is I feel more edgy. I guess that’s the father feeling kicking in, but that’s it.”
A challenge also faces the young Sangiao even before stepping inside the Circle.
Carrying the banner of Team Lakay and being the son of a legendary coach is not an easy task knowing that at one point, it even had four of the five Filipino world champions under the ONE umbrella, bannered by former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang and reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio.
“They all have that passion and absolutely, this young generation have that raw appetite to get to as far as where their Mamanongs have come to,” said coach Mark who believes that Team Lakay will once again be back to the pinnacle of ONE Championship.
“These Mamanongs’ achievements are motivation-feeder to our younger generation of fighters and I always tell them to stay driven, to train to improve, to always carry the right attitude and good character.”
Yet, seeing Jhanlo grew up and training him personally, coach Mark has no worries in Jhanlo entering the big stage.
“I have no worries. I believe we got him armed physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for this moment. We did the groundwork and let him not forget to always stay focused and to always carry humility whenever he enters that ONE Circle,” said coach Mark.
“Right now, he is the youngest among the Team Lakay athletes in ONE Championship and of course, they know him as my son. I think this kind of adds more pressure to him, but I know that he is handling this very well. He’s ready to go out there and perform.”
For now, though, coach Mark is just one proud father.
“I’m extremely thrilled and feeling ecstatic,” he said. “As a father and as a coach, either way it just feels great. I’m super thankful that ONE opened this opportunity to him and we all in Team Lakay have high hopes for him.”