ONE Championship star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang is renowned for his work ethic and tireless commitment to improving as a martial artist.
Those qualities took him to wushu titles and, after transitioning to mixed martial arts, the ONE Lightweight World Title.
He credits his upbringing with his brothers and sisters in Baguio City, Philippines for giving him those attributes.
“My mother and father gave up a lot to make sure we were well taken care of as kids,” says the 34-year-old.
“They worked very hard to put us through school, to give us a good education, and they taught us when we were young that we had to earn what we wanted in life.”
Life back then was tough from a financial standpoint. Folayang’s parents worked second jobs to help bring money in to make ends meet and, at times, they had to borrow money to pay for their children to attend school.
Living in a deprived area, it would have been easy for Folayang to fall in with the wrong crowd and go down a dark path, but “Landslide” stayed faithful to his parents’ wishes and followed their advice.
That commitment to following their example has borne fruit in his mixed martial arts career, as he has become one of the best athletes the Philippines has ever produced.
He won 11 medals, including three golds, in international wushu competitions, then transitioned his skills to the cage and knocked out Japanese legend Shinya Aoki to capture the ONE Lightweight World Title.
His successes meant he could take his family out of extreme poverty and give them a happier, more stable life.
“All of my success is a result of the lessons my parents taught us when we were young,” he says.
“It is by faith that my parents taught me good principles, with emphasis on hard work and perseverance, rather than turning to a life of crime.
“That is why I worked hard to follow my dreams in martial arts – so I could help my family and turn our situation around.”
Folayang returns to action at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS in Manila when he faces off against undefeated Russian Aziz Pahrudinov on 27 July.
Victory could place him in an ideal spot to challenge for the belt he once wore, which currently rests over Martin Nguyen’s shoulder.
Being champion again would let him push his influence to the limit as he looks to inspire the next generation back home in the Philippines.
“One of the greatest things about being a World Champion for me was using my influence to work with the youth,” he explains.
“I love to work with kids because I see myself in them when I was younger – full of hope in spite of everything. The reason I am a martial artist is because I know God has given me the ability to influence and help my countrymen, especially the youth.
“There are so many problems in our country. We have seen the effect of extreme poverty, and of vices like drugs on the Filipino people. As an athlete, I want to use my time to inspire them, and not waste their lives on crime and drugs – especially the children.”
After experiencing the lowest lows and the highest highs, Folayang is keeping level-headed as he embarks on the next chapter of his career, and he remains grateful for the solid grounding provided by his parents as he continues his success story inside the cage.
“I feel blessed and happy to have loving parents who showed me the correct path,” Folayang says.
“I thank my mother and father, and, of course, God for everything that I have now. I had an amazing childhood, and because of that, I was raised properly and with good values. I was raised knowing the value of hard work.”