By Jun Ray Navarres
Filipino-American Jackie Buntan looks for an impressive debut in her much anticipated ONE Championship match against Thai star Wondergirl Fairtex in a three-round Muay Thai contest on Friday in ONE: Fists of Fury in Singapore.
Inspired by Pinoy sports legend, Manny Pacquiao, Buntan is heading into her first ONE appearance with the aim of making a name for herself.
“I know it’s like the most common thing, but definitely inspired by Manny Pacquiao. Especially being a Filipino, there’s always a big family party watching his fights. I didn’t even know much about boxing, but it was just still cool to see him do what he does, and all that he does for the Filipino people as well,” shared Buntan who’s been looking up to Pacquiao after watching his fights.
“I saw his work ethic and how he started literally from nothing to where he is now, it inspired me. It just made me realize that if you really love something and are passionate about something, you can just put your head down and put the work in, and you can achieve whatever you want. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned from just watching him train, his fights, and little snippets of his camps and whatnot.”
Buntan’s road to becoming a professional fighter is rather difficult as her parents were opposing the idea, however today, they are her number one supporters.
“At first, my parents didn’t like it. I mean, no one wants to see their youngest daughter step inside the ring and get hit, though my mom was definitely more on board with it than my dad. My dad took a more old-school approach but he’s a big supporter now. It just took him a bit longer to jump into it until my later life as an adult,” said Buntan.
“Now they are so ecstatic and extremely proud of me because they know I’ve been chasing this for so long, and they know how dedicated I am to this sport and my training. They saw me coming to the gym every day. They know how serious I take it, and how passionate I am about it. So, when I told them I was joining ONE Championship, they were just super proud of me.”
Buntan, was raised in south bay of Los Angeles, in a completely Filipino household. One of her career goals is to someday be able to compete in Manila.
“I’ve never been to the Philippines before, but it’s definitely one of the things that excites me about joining ONE. When I told my family about ONE, the first thing they said was I needed to fight in the Philippines. I have so many relatives over there. It will be great to be able to fight in front of them for the first time, and have them see what I do,” shared Buntan.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @burnsports