LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Cordillera kickboxing athletes may pick up gold medals in the upcoming South East Asian Games (SEAG), a confident fight and striking coach Mark Sangiao said Tuesday prior to their departure for Manila to await competition proper.
The players wrapped up their training Tuesday and will be ferried to Manila where they will wait for the start of the competition set from Dec. 7 to 10, Sangiao told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a Facebook message.
"We just wrapped up our training this morning and will be traveling to Manila tomorrow (Nov. 27)," the message added.
Sangiao is confident that his players will do good in the competitions, saying: “I can’t predict now, we still do not know but we are confident that we will bring home golds.”
“The players are 95 percent prepared to go into action to the SEAG. It has been a two-month preparation, so we are already there,” said Sangiao, patriarch of the famed mixed martial arts group Team Lakay which has earned five titles in the ONE Fighting Championship (FC).
Sangiao himself is a SEAG gold winner in 2001 in wushu sanda, who later coached the national wushu squad.
This is the first time kickboxing is included on the list of events of the SEA Games.
“They have been training abroad in Taiwan and Cambodia for the SEAG,” Sangiao added.
ONE FC campaigners Gina Iniong will compete in the 55-kilogram division and Jerry Olsim is in 71 kg. division, while Jean Claude Saclag, will be competing in the 62 kg. category.
All are touted to win gold medals in the event.
Iniong and Saclag are former members of the Wushu Federation of the Philippines where Saclag is a former Asian Games silver medalist. He won a silver medal in the 2014 Asiad in Incheon, South Korea where he lost to China’s Hongxing Kong.
Iniong is a six-time wushu sanda national champion and now competes in the ONE FC atom weight division.
As of November 2019, she is number six pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the Southeast Asia region.
Olsim is one of the newer Team Lakay members seeing action in ONE.
After six consecutive wins, Olsim bowed to Ryoji Kudo in the ONE Warrior Series last October 5.
“The other members of the national team are from Manila,” added Sangiao.
The team will also have other Cordillera fighters like world medalist Jomar Xanda Boy Balangui of the University of Baguio, rising female fighter Renz Dacquel and hard-hitting Karol Estepa Maguide of Highland Boxing Gym.
Balangui, a native of Kalinga province like Saclag, is the 2018 FISU (International University Sports Federation) World Championship silver medalist in wushu sanda.
The kickboxers are backed by Samahang Kick Boxing ng Pilipinas (SKBP) president, Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino, and Secretary-General Wharton Wharton Chan.
SKBP is founded by Tagaytay City Rep. Bambol Tolentino.
Aside from Sangiao, the other coaches for the kickboxing event are Taekwondo Olympian Donnie Geisler (Live Green) and Abellon Cabiara Mondol for boxing.
Eight gold medals at stake from the eight weight categories from kick light, full contact and low kick. (PNA)