The secret to Team Lakay founder Mark Sangiao’s success

Joshua Pacio, Geje Eustaquio, Mark Sangiao, Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, Stephen Loman (© ONE Championship)

Joshua Pacio, Geje Eustaquio, Mark Sangiao, Kevin Belingon, Eduard Folayang, Stephen Loman (© ONE Championship)

For Mark Sangiao, there is no secret to his success but pure hard work, determination and the will to succeed. The Team Lakay founder and head coach recently shared some details about the early days of his mixed martial arts journey.

“When I first started Team Lakay, we had just one pair of gloves which we all shared. All of our training and equipment, everything was improvised. We trained outdoors and made use of the beautiful nature in Baguio City to train. It was free,” said Sangiao.

Today, Team Lakay is the Philippines’ most recognizable martial arts troupe. Sangiao has established four training locations with the central gym in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines featuring top-of-the-line facilities and equipment.


Why do people call Mark Sangiao a strategist?

“People call me a strategist because I don’t just rush into things,” Sangiao shared. “I like to create a plan not just as a coach but in my entire approach to life in general. I like to think deep about things and I always have a long-term future goal. I set a goal and no matter how hard or impossible it may look, I do everything in my power to make it happen.”

Since the very beginning, Team Lakay had made the best of their meager facilities. Observing the team’s history throughout the years, it’s absolutely astonishing how much they’ve accomplished with so very little.

To date, the team has produced an impressive group of MMW world champions. Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio and Kevin Belingon all previously held World Titles with ONE Championship while Joshua Pacio is the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion and Stephen Loman is the BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight Champion.


What are the challenges Team Lakay faced before becoming what it is today?

To say that what Sangiao and Team Lakay have accomplished is extraordinary is an understatement. The group has garnered so many accolades throughout the years, whilst training in a very small, spartan gym.

But Sangiao never let go of his dream to have a gym complete with the best gear and facilities so he and his students could make the best out of training. He recalled, “Four years ago, it seemed impossible to happen but I worked hard for it.”

“I envisioned it, and when the opportunity came about, we took it,” the MMA pioneer continued. “I didn’t even think about the kind of money we needed to spend to put it up for all the new machines we had to buy, for the rent we had to pay. I just took the chance and here we are. We’re doing okay.”

Eventually, Team Lakay built the gym of their dreams and now the team is producing the next generation of world champions in the Philippines. For Sangiao, it takes a goal, a firm and strong mind to reach that goal, an opportunity and the heart to succeed.


What is Mark Sangiao’s advice to everyone who wants to succeed?

“You just have to have patience and wait for the right time,” Sangiao advised. “More importantly, you need the right people working with you. You have to surround yourself with like-minded people. With that, there is no impossible dream.”

“You can’t be afraid to take chances when opportunities present themselves, even if you’re not a hundred percent sure you will succeed,” Sangiao added. “Opportunity is opportunity and you have to be brave enough to grab it, and invest in it.”

Sangiao has no doubt proven with his own career and struggles that having little is no excuse not to try. He advised, “If money is an issue, you have many other advantages to lean back on.”

“You have your time, your effort and your mind,” the Team Lakay founder continued. “Bank on your abilities and things will fall into place.”

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