Have fans seen the last of Gina “Conviction” Iniong in competition?
That is a question for later. For now, Iniong is taking a break from combat sports to focus on her family, particularly with her pregnancy.
The fifth-ranked women’s strawweight from Team Lakay is expecting her first child with her longtime partner Richard Araos, and has decided to turn her focus to her family.
It is not necessarily retirement, at least not yet, but the 30-year-old has already talked to her coach Mark Sangiao, and the soft-spoken mentor supports whatever she decides.
“She thought about retirement, but I told her, don’t think about it yet. I told her to focus on her pregnancy, and then maybe she can make decisions after if she really wants to stop,” Sangiao said.
“I told her that it is hard to decide right now. I’ve seen a lot of people retire then come out of retirement. It’s best for her to just focus on her well-being and pregnancy, and then worry about the next steps in her career later.”
Choosing to walk away now would certainly be a bold career move because Iniong is at the top of her game.
Just last December, the 30-year-old brought honor to her country by winning a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games for kickboxing. A month later, she secured her second straight win in ONE Championship by beating Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka at ONE: FIRE & FURY.
She then cracked the official ONE rankings, landing at fifth in the talented women’s atomweight division.
But none of that compares with the blessing she has now.
“Even before the SEA Games, she was telling me that she wanted to focus on her family. She said they’re getting older and they already want to have a child,” Sangiao continued.
“This is such a huge blessing for her. She wanted this for a long time, and it was given.”
Whether Iniong returns or not, she has already broken the barriers for women’s mixed martial arts in the Philippines. And if she does return, she will always have the support of her coach.
“We cannot really tell if Gina Iniong will return. It’s her decision. We cannot really say,” Sangiao said.
“We told ONE already about it and they sent their congratulations. They also told her not to think about retirement this time. It’s her life, and whatever she does, we’ll support her.”
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