Back in 2018, Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao produced four mixed martial arts world champions in ONE Championship.
A year later, Sangiao developed three gold medalists in the 30th Southeast Asian Games’ kickboxing event, with the three champions also from Team Lakay. Jerry Olsim and Gina Iniong took down the 69-kilogram and 55kg division of the kick light event, respectively, while Jean Claude Saclag ruled the 63.5-kg weight class of the low kick category.
And the feeling of producing champions never gets old for the 40-year-old native of Baguio.
“Siyempre ‘yung feeling, masayang-masaya tayo — ‘yung feeling indescribable. Nung nagkaka-award sila at nasa likod nila ‘yung bandila natin, ‘yun ‘yung pinaka-nakakataba ng puso.”
With his recent feat, Sangiao, whom the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas tapped as one of the tacticians for the biennial meet last June, is now seen as a kingmaker — a producer of aces.
But for him, he is no Midas. He has no golden touch.
The efforts of his athletes were a result of hard work, sacrifice, and, most importantly, patience.
“Roller-coaster siya. Siyempre, ‘yung umpisa ng byahe na ito mahirap, madaming nasa-sacrifice, madaming hirap, at madaming sakit. Mahirap talaga. Ang daming nasa-sacrifice: time, money, at family,” admitted the godfather of the famed camp.
“Pero ‘pag nakuha na ‘yung medalya, balewala na ‘yung lahat ng napagdaanan.”
With this, Sangiao has now produced champions in mixed martial arts, wushu, and kickboxing. And if called upon to help in developing an athlete in a different discipline, he will not blink an eye before saying yes.
“Hundred-percent tutulong tayo ulit. Ito ‘yung bagay na hindi natin puwede ipagkait. Ito ‘yung paraan natin to give back sa ating bansa.”