Asia

[EXCLUSIVE] Team Lakay’s Islay Erika Bomogao to continue what Gina Iniong has started?

Islay Erika Bomogao, 19, is currently the youngest female member of Team Lakay. Based in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, the world-class mixed martial arts team is also home to Gina “Conviction” Iniong, 31, the first ever Filipina MMA fighter to compete and win in an international professional MMA bout.

Iniong and her Team Lakay teammate April Osenio, 26, are among the top female athletes who have competed in ONE Championship. The latter has been on hiatus since her last bout on January 26, 2018.

On June 5, 2020, Iniong announced that she and her husband Richard Araos are expecting their first baby. This means that her fans will not see her compete anytime soon.

The torch is now passed to Bomogao, who is expected to be the next female Team Lakay star. Aside from holding a professional MMA record of 2 wins and 0 loss, she has won medals for the Philippines as a Muay Thai fighter.

In 2017, Bomogao won gold at the inaugural World Martial Arts Masterships in Jincheon, South Korea. In 2018, she won another gold at the International Federation of Muaythai Associations World Youth Muaythai Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

In 2019, Iniong and Bomogao represented the Philippines at the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the country. The former won gold in kickboxing’s women’s -55kg light kick category while the latter won silver in Muay Thai in the women’s 45kg division.

Bomogao finished high school in Benguet State University in La Trinidad and she is an incoming sophomore student of the University of Baguio in Baguio City, Philippines where she is studying Bachelor of Physical Education. Here is a recent interview I had with the Team Lakay fighter:

CONAN ALTATIS: How did you manage to continue your training during the quarantine period?

ISLAY ERIKA BOMOGAO: Our Muay Thai national coaches and team from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) kept in touch and sent us guidelines and programs to do at home. They monitored us all the time and sometimes, we even had online group trainings and zoom meetings not just about our physical health but our mental health, as well. I did everything with enthusiasm!

CA: Looking at the bright side, what were the good things that happened to you during this pandemic?

IEB: First, because of the rest from intense training, I got to rest my body and heal my injuries. Another is that I learned to train alone and make use of simple things at home for training. Third, thanks to the internet, I got to watch videos of great fighters and learned cool techniques. I also got to focus more on my studies and I developed new hobbies: baking and gardening!

CA: Gina Iniong will go on hiatus for a year or two. Did Sir Mark Sangiao tell you anything about continuing what she has started as a female Team Lakay fighter?

IEB: Coach Mark has not mentioned to me anything about that matter but he is always there to teach, motivate and push me to become a better athlete and soon belong to the row of the superstars.

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