She may be softly spoken, but make no mistake, Gina “Conviction” Iniong plans on making some noise in ONE Championship’s atomweight division.
The six-time Philippines national wushu champion has transitioned to the martial arts cage via the Muay Thai circuit, and has put together a record of five wins, two losses.
Now, as a rising star of ONE Championship, Iniong has her sights set on the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title, currently held by “Unstoppable” Angela Lee.
Despite her plans for world domination in ONE Championship, Iniong’s reserved nature remains her trademark.
“Although I have been in this game long, I am still very shy,” she admitted. “I do not think I will ever get used to talking to a large group of people. Speaking my mind and sharing my thoughts is a lot scarier than being inside that cage, that is for sure!
“It is better to let my fists do the talking.”
The Baguio City native is one of 10 children, and says her parents are her main inspiration, with her father - a former boxer - a particular influence.
“Growing up, we were all very athletic children and we were all into sports,” she explained.
“Some of my siblings trained in taekwondo, while I trained in boxing. But there was always some sort of sport we were getting into.”
After initially taking up the ‘sweet science’ Iniong discovered wushu, and after graduating from university, she threw herself into active competition, picking up a gold medal in her first tournament.
Her successes in wushu alerted Mark Sangiao, the legendary coach of Team Lakay, who invited her to join his stable to join the likes of ONE Lightweight Champion Eduard Folayang and former ONE Featherweight Champion Honorio Banario.
“When Coach Mark saw my skills, he recognised that I had the potential to become a professional martial artist,” Iniong explained.
“This is when he invited me to join Team Lakay and train under his watch. I fell in love instantly, and knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Her love of martial arts has been reflected in her successes inside the cage, with five wins so far in her career, including a split decision victory over former ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title challenger Mei Yamaguchi.
Most recently, she enjoyed a dominant win on her ONE Championship debut against Natalie Gonzales Hills at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY this past April.
Iniong will look to follow up that debut win with a second one when she takes on Indonesia’s Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November in Manila.
Iniong is hopeful that another impressive win will push her one step closer to a title shot.
“That is my ultimate motivation, to become world champion,” she said.
“That is why I joined this organisation, to showcase my skills and to prove to the world that I have what it takes to be the best. My opponent is a good striker, so I have no doubt that this will be an entertaining contest.”
If she’s successful, Iniong says she’s ready for whoever she’s thrown in with next, even if it’s defending ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Lee.
“I will face whoever ONE Championship wants me to face. I am ready, anytime,” the Filipina declared. “But I have my eye on the champion, and I want that belt.”