Honorio Banario may be a former ONE World Champion and star of Asian martial arts, but he was once the victim of bullies, and suffered from a serious lack of confidence.
The 28-year-old chatted to ONE Championship ahead of his upcoming bout with Adrian Pang at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR, and explained how different things were during his childhood, before martial arts gave him a sense of purpose and self-confidence.
“I would shake and sweat profusely whenever I was called up to the front in recitals,” he said.
“It was very bad. I hardly had any belief in myself, and all my classmates made fun of me, and called me names behind my back. I was picked on a lot.”
Banario’s nervous nature led to him being relentlessly teased and bullied during his schooldays. It became so bad the 10-year-old Filipino didn’t want to leave his home to go to school.
“I just felt like I was nothing, like everyone else was better than me at everything. It was very tough to deal with,” he explained.
“I felt lost, and confused. I just had no motivation for anything. I was scared all the time. It was a real problem for me.”
Banario needed to find something to help him out of his funk, and that thing was martial arts.
“Martial arts gave me the confidence I was longing for,” he said.
“Not long after, I became more outgoing, and more outspoken. I developed a better relationship with my classmates, and with my friends. Slowly, the bullying began to stop.”
His progression as a martial artist eventually saw him join the famous Team Lakay, where he worked under respected head coach Mark Sangiao. His career started superbly as he raced to a 6-0 record, with all his wins coming inside the distance, as he captured a Filipino title.
Then he joined ONE Championship and captured the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Title when he defeated fellow countryman Eric Kelly in February 2013.
He eventually lost his title, but now he’s on a tear once again, as he looks to move into title contention in a new weight class following a switch to lightweight.
He’s riding a four-bout win streak and faces respected veteran Adrian Pang at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in Manila on 20 April.
Having pulled himself out of a bad situation as a youngster, Banario says he wants his continued success in ONE Championship to act as an inspiration to youngsters who may be suffering as he did back in his youth.
“Martial arts changed my life. It saved me from bullying, and gave me the strength to believe in myself,” he said.
“My message to all the children experiencing the same thing as I did is to know that bullying can be solved. Whether it is training in martial arts, or pursuing other passions, you have to believe in yourself.
“When you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”