Danny “The King” Kingad will step into the ONE Championship cage at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER on Saturday, 23 June with his trusted coach by his side once again.
Kingad is set to face on Chinese flyweight contender “The Southern Eagle” Ma Hao Bin in Macau, and he is confident that he has been well drilled in the techniques and tactics he needs to prevail.
“The King” credits his competitive success as a martial artist to the input of his longtime head coach at Team Lakay, Mark Sangiao. He is the man who trained him for the Filipino national wushu team, then helped him transition his skills to the cage in ONE Championship.
“Having a coach like him is one of the most important parts of my career,” says the 22-year-old star.
“I cannot reach my true potential without proper guidance. But with Coach Mark, I feel like anything is possible.”
Sangiao has played a major part in Kingad’s life – much more than simply teaching him techniques and strategies.
When Kingad lost his father at the tender age of eight, his life was in danger of going down the wrong path.
“When my father passed away, I fell into a bad place in my life,” Kingad explains.
“I had a lot of vices, and my studies suffered.”
Through his cousin and Team Lakay member, Roldan Sangcha-an, Kingad was introduced to wushu.
He took to the discipline like a duck to water and dedicated himself to achieving success in the art.
His hard work in training paid off when he earned a wushu scholarship at the University of the Cordilleras – where Sangiao was the head coach of the team.
Sangiao’s influence had an effect on Kingad almost immediately, and the young prospect earned a regional title as he built a 29-1 record.
Perhaps more important than his martial arts tuition, Sangiao became a strong male role model Kingad.
“Coach Mark is like a second father to me, because he does not just teach me what he knows about martial arts. He also gives me advice in my personal life, and how to be a better person,” Kingad explains.
“He has taught me a lot, and I have learned so much from him – like how to deal with criticism, how to conduct myself in public, to give respect to everybody, and of course, how to live like a true martial artist.
“The great thing about Coach Mark is that he has so much experience, and a lot of stories to share that we all learn from. I have taken that to heart.
“A lot of the values I live by, I have learned from Coach Mark. He has been a major influence in my life.”
Sangiao has proved to be a father figure to Kingad and his Team Lakay training partners.
His guidance has helped them to become better martial artists, and better people away from their athletic pursuits.
“If one of us had done something that was distasteful, we would immediately get a call,” Kingad says.
“Coach Mark would want to have a talk and ask us what happened, what we did wrong, and then give us advice.
“This has had a huge impact in my life. With my father gone, Coach Mark really stepped up as a sort of role model for me, and one that I could learn from.”
Many of them have benefited from coach Sangiao’s expertise.
Under Sangiao’s guidance, Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, and Geje Eustaquio – who will also compete in Macau in the main event – have found success inside the ONE cage as World Champions.
Kingad wants to follow in their footsteps. He has already challenged for the ONE Flyweight World Title, but he suffered his only career defeat against Adriano Moraes last November.
However, he bounced back superbly against Bulgaria’s Sotir Kichukov in March to get back on the winning track.
That decision victory suggests he has a lot more to offer against some of the weight class’ leading names in the years to come.
If he can follow up that performance with a victory over Ma at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, Kingad may find himself on the verge of a second shot at the title.
He’ll chase that goal with his mentor in his corner – who he rates above any other trainer in the world.
“I have met many coaches, and I know it is not right to compare, because everyone has their own strengths, but Coach Mark is unique,” Kingad explains.
“You just cannot find another coach like him. He really treats us as more than his pupils. He treats us like family – like we are his sons and brothers.
“If he was not my coach, I know for sure I would not have reached the success I have today.”