Team Lakay has another star in its arsenal…The goal at ONE Championship has always been to create Asian heroes. To unleash superstars. This is easier said than done. For every Angela Lee or Aung La N Sang there are thousands who don’t quite make it.
There are different elements to making the grade. You need talent, you need drive, and you need charisma. One man who’s shown plenty of all three during his impressive rise is the Philippines’ Lito Adiwang.
Boasting an impressive 11-2 record, Adiwang has stormed his way through the competition since getting his shot at the big time, with both of his victories in ONE Championship ending in the first round.
Having made his professional debut back in 2012, the Team Lakay sensation is far from an overnight success.
“When I was a student at the University of Baguio, I was a part of the school’s Wushu team. Back then it was Coach Mark Sangiao who oversaw all tournaments and that was my first encounter with Team Lakay in 2010.”
“Since my family is still financially challenged, I had to leave martial arts to work in Malaysia as an MMA fitness instructor for Muay Fit. In Malaysia, I got the opportunity to watch Eduard (Folayang) and Geje (Eustaquio) compete at ONE: ‘Clash of Heroes’. I took it as a sign that I was meant to become a professional athlete. After their event, I followed them to their hotel and spoke with Geje to see if I could return to Team Lakay and train with them again. Geje told me that he will speak to Coach Mark about it and I waited. I then trained with AKA Thailand for a year before returning home to the Philippines.”
“When I started training with Team Lakay we started from the basics and began building my skills from the ground up.”
As the saying goes, ‘a tree with strong roots, laughs at storms’, and by the time Adiwang received his big opportunity, he was ready to grasp it with both hands.
“My goal when I joined the team was to be a part of ONE Championship. Coach Mark and the rest of the team made sure that I was ready for the level of competition as we trained daily. Finally, Jeremy Pacatiw and I were selected initially as reserves for the ONE Warrior Series (OWS). Whenever I was called to compete, I always think that this is my last chance to join ONE Championship and aimed to win.”
“I was in shock when they announced that I won the contract and was still in awe when I was signing the document.”
Outside of Stamp Fairtex, who was former two-sport World Champion in ONE Championship, Adiwang is one of the biggest success stories in OWS. Under the guidance of martial arts legend Rich Franklin, competitors are given the perfect platform to showcase their skills and a chance to prove that they’re ready for the world stage.
Although he came into OWS riding a two-event win streak, Adiwang hadn’t competed for over a year and a half. Despite the break, the two-time Philippine National Wushu Champion was able to use the opportunity to completely transform his life and find the path to stardom. The ‘Thunderkid’ had found his perfect storm.
“Thanks to the experience I gained at OWS, I was able to shake off my ring rust and gain more confidence in facing talented athletes around the world. I was also able to start renovating our house and I am able to pay for my mother’s medications. Now my name is also known internationally and I plan to keep on giving my best performances as a sign of appreciation for the faith given to me by ONE Championship.”
Mark Sangiao and Team Lakay have a remarkable record when it comes to producing world champions. Honorio Banario, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Eduard Folayang and Joshua Pacio have all tasted gold at ONE Championship.
In Adiwang, they have a teammate who boasts that crucial trinity of talent, drive and charisma.
Will he be the next to bring home one of those iconic belts?