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MMA: Jhanlo Sangiao embraces pressure, people’s expectations in following father’s footsteps

By Jan Carlo Anolin

Jhanlo Sangiao watched his father Mark, the famed head coach of Team Lakay, at his prime in several fights way back.

Jhanlo Sangiao, son of Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao (Photo from Jhanlo Sangiao's Facebook account)

Jhanlo Sangiao, son of Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao (Photo from Jhanlo Sangiao’s Facebook account)

Coach Mark used to bring Jhanlo to his competitions and let him watch from the sideline. The older Sangiao, who holds a 7-2 professional mixed martial arts record, earned moniker “The Machine” and established dominance in the URCC and FFC.

Jhanlo, even at a young age, felt the immense pressure and expectation as the son of one of the most renowned martial artists in the Philippines.

But the natural fighter in Jhanlo didn’t let that hinder his ambitions as he aspired to follow his father’s footsteps.

That DNA naturally runs within Jhanlo, something he inherited from no less than coach Mark, who produced champion-caliber athletes in ONE.

“Kailangan mo mag-step up doon pag na-pressure ka na, gagawin mo lahat para magampanan mo yung ine-expect ng mga tao sa’yo,” Jhanlo, now 17, told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.

Jhanlo was exposed early to the discipline of martial arts, and having a champion as a father and coach served as an early ticket to success.

“Noong bata ako, ini-start niya na ako mag-training, from basic hanggang sa nagkatuloy-tuloy na po, hanggang sa nagka-interes na rin ako,” Jhanlo said.

Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao (Photo from Mark Sangiao's Facebook page)

Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao (Photo from Mark Sangiao’s Facebook page)

Coach Mark, a former wushu gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games, couldn’t be any prouder.

“I’m happy siyempre na sinusundan niya yung yapak natin,” the older Sangiao said. “Pero for me, I know the hardship of being an athlete. Alam natin sa mga athlete na talagang [kailangan ng] physical [conditioning] dyan especially martial arts.”

The 41-year-old veteran coach sees no problem in Jhanlo’s track so far.

In fact, he asked Jhanlo, currently in Grade 11 at the Benguet State University, once to reconsider other options for his future career. Jhanlo would have none of it.

“Nakita ko naman sa kanya yung passion talaga. Kung paano siya ka-dedicated sa sports at yung time na nilalagay niya. Nakikita ko pag training niya, nandun yung puso pag nagte-train siya,” the Team Lakay founder said.

At the end of the day, coach Mark vowed his full support to Jhanlo, whether he chooses to pursue the path of an athlete or not.

“Sinabi ko sa kanya noon na, ‘baka gusto mong maging lawyer. Pero sabi niya sa akin, ‘gusto ko ring maging champion.’”

For now, Jhanlo has made up his mind in being a martial artist. “Dream ko rin naman maging isang lawyer pero parang mas gusto ko po muna maging athlete.”

As for a possible debut, namely a possible bout in ONE Warrior Series, Jhanlo admitted that remains a long and winding road ahead.

“Kailangan pa mahasa ‘yung skills. Matagal-tagal pa yun pero gagawin ko po lahat para makamit ko yung debut sa ONE.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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