Danny Kingad takes to the ONE Championship cage for the third time on 21 April, inside the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, and when he climbs those last few steps up the stairs and onto the canvas, he’ll be alone.
However, right up to that point, he will have had his team by his side, and even then they will be just a few meters away. It can feel like a lonely place when the door is bolted shut and your opponent is standing across from you, but it’s a team effort to get to that point.
Baguio City’s famous Team Lakay have several fighters all preparing for the same event, and that means they will have been pushing each other every day, picking each other up, and spurring each other on through the hard rounds in the gym.
The camaraderie and brotherhood this brings is hard to describe, but it builds a bond that is more than just people sharing a mutual love for martial arts. That’s why Kingad sees Team Lakay as more than just a fight team.
“They are helping me, and they are my mentors. They mentor me on how to think and how to talk. Many things they teach me help me through life,” he reveals.
At just 21 years old and with a perfect slate of 4-0, Kingad is one of many excellent fighters from the gym, and they’re not just prospects. Topping the card at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY will be defending ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang, one of the most experienced competitors that Kingad can look up to.
Having a team around you that cares for your welfare, as well as your progression in MMA, is a gift that not all fighters have. That’s why Team Lakay’s members feel it is more of a family than a fight team.
Having come from poverty and losing his father at a young age, there was every chance things could have gone out of control for a young Kingad. Now, thanks to positive role models such as Folayang and head coach Mark Sangiao, he can stay on the right path.
“I have been able to speak to them about all of my problems. They support me because they know that my life was not easy,” Kingad shares.
Keen to reward the time and faith that has been invested in him, the young Filipino is focused on staying unbeaten and continuing his march up the ONE Championship ranks. Back-to-back first-round finishes in his first two bouts with the promotion were enough to show that he has the potential.
The more you win, the more difficult the matchups become. He’s set to face off against Bali MMA’s Muhammad Aiman in Manila next, a tough but relevant test. He will have prepared to the best of his abilities under the tutelage of the aforementioned Sangiao, so he’ll be confident that victory is within his grasp.
“I think this fight will be exciting and challenging, because it is different,” Kingad explained.
A challenge is not a bad thing. Challenges are what Kingad needs if he wants to continue his ascent and break through to the next echelon of the flyweight division. To do that, he just needs to keep his run of form going, and taking better scalps with each outing.
“I am not rushing to go to the top. I want to first fight more in my division,” he says. “And then, we can go for the championship.”