Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan would not have been in ONE Championship if not for his older brother, Rene “The Challenger” Catalan.
The younger of the Catalan brothers emulated his kuya, following him every step of the way and eventually landing a spot at The Home Of Martial Arts.
“Rene was my idol even when he was just boxing,” Robin shared.
“Later, Rene took up wushu and I followed suit. He became a World Champion, and it only made me admire him more. In my first wushu competition, I won gold in a national competition and earned a spot on the national team, where I joined Ruel and Rabin.”
If anyone showed Robin the way, it was “The Challenger” and his ambitions to become one of the most respected martial artists to come out of the Philippines.
Having a simple life in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo might have been enough for Robin. But his older brother opened his eyes and showed him that there was more to life the moment they stepped out of their comfort zones.
Then while Rene was making a name for himself as one of the best wushu athletes in the country, Robin found his niche in Muay Thai. He was eventually named the IFMA Muay Thai World Champion in 2011.
“He’s been like my father,” Robin said.
“He guided me to better decisions in life. He told me the heights I could reach in a martial arts career if I focused. If I stayed in the province, I’d probably be planting crops, doing construction, and whatnot.”
Blossoming in their respective martial arts, this prompted the move to mixed martial arts, where they faced new challenges yet again.
Rene struggled, going winless in his first three matches. On the other hand, Robin also dropped his debut match.
But just like how it has always been for them, Rene led by example by working hard, dedicating his time into getting better, and fixing his holes.
The older Catalan then racked up six-straight wins to get a shot at the ONE Strawweight World Title, though he ultimately lost to Joshua “The Passion” Pacio last November.
Nonetheless, Rene’s run was more than enough to show Robin that hard work pays off.
“He’s been an inspiration,” Robin said.
“People saw my brother as an old, washed-up fighter, and then he went on his win streak. I saw his dedication to win. His skill is still there, and he paired it up with veteran smarts.”
Read More From ONE Championship: