Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario, 28, of the famed Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines knows all too well how important the role his team has played in his career. At his lowest point, he found solace in teammates who never stopped believing in him.
“To have people you can rely on, teammates you know who have your back and will help you with becoming a better fighter, this has been extremely valuable to my career,” Banario said in an interview with ONE Championship. “We support and pull each other up instead of bring each other down. As an athlete, especially as a martial artist, it’s very important to find a place you know where you belong.”
Led by a Philippine martial arts pioneer, Team Lakay was founded by its head coach Mark Sangiao. He has built a solid band of brothers who together form the most prolific martial arts team not just in the country, but in all of Asia.
Team Lakay’s rise to martial arts powerhouse has been well-chronicled over the past few years. For Banario, the immense success is due to the close personal relationships each team member has built with one another.
An unshakable trust that exists far beyond the bond of blood was born from this supreme blend of talent and personality. Banario noted, “Everyone knows how close we are.”
“We’re not just a team,” Banario continued. “We are brothers. I can say, as a martial artist, this is very important.”
“It goes past just sharing victories and defeats as a team,” the former ONE Featherweight World Champion added. “We truly grow together and learn from each others’ mistakes. We feed off the energy and are motivated to succeed.”
But there are instances when Team Lakay fighters lose. Earlier this year, the team’s April Osenio, Gina “Conviction” Iniong and Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly lost to Jomary “The Zamboanganian Fighter” Torres. Istela Nunes and former ONE Featherweight World Champion Narantungalag Jadambaa, respectively.
Banario himself is no stranger to losing. A well-documented five bout losing streak between 2013 and 2015 had him nearly contemplating retirement.
According to Banario, he may have given up on a promising career if it were not for his brothers at Team Lakay. He shared, “Some of us lose.
“Of course, this is a sport but instead of feeling down, we always take it as a challenge to improve,” Banario continued. “I’m a great example of that.”
“My team could have given up on me, after losing five in a row,” Banario continued. “They could have stopped believing in me and told me to quit but they kept pushing me and motivating me. You can only have that kind of support with a good team behind you.”
Aside from Banario, Osenio, Iniong and Kelly, the other Team Lakay fighters currently signed with ONE Championship are Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, Danny “The King” Kingad, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio.
Meanwhile, here is a clip featuring Banario and some of his Team Lakay brothers: