HAD HIS FAIR SHARE of adversities while growing up, ONE Championship fighter Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang said it only made him a better individual and something he is now taking cue from as he builds a solid career in mixed martial arts.

Growing up in Baguio City, 26-year-old Adiwang said life was not easy for him.

But instead of having hardships consume him, he chose to use it as motivation to improve his lot and make something out of his life.

“I was born the youngest in a family of seven children. Life was tough and we had to get through a lot of trials. My parents used to plant crops in an open lot so we would have food to eat, but it wasn’t enough,” Mr. Adiwang said.

“It really taught me a lot about overcoming adversity in life. I wanted to help my family, but I felt powerless. Then I lost my fourth sibling in a mining accident. My parents separated when I was a teenager. I just felt hopeless,” he added.

To help him take on the challenge that life had thrown at him head-on, Mr. Adiwang said he drew inspiration from other people who started with nothing but steadily improved their lives through good old hard work and determination.

One such person is Filipino boxing legend and now-Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.

“Growing up watching the rise of Manny Pacquiao, I was motivated to become a boxer just like him. I wanted to represent my country and make my people proud, too. I wanted to help bring my family out of hardship and poverty,” said Mr. Adiwang.

“There used to be an old church on the streets where I grew up, where I initially started to learn how to box. I was 12 years old at the time. I would shadowbox and imagine I was Manny Pacquiao, fighting against legends like Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. I loved his relentless style. His opponents couldn’t handle him,” he furthered.

The grit and determination he got from watching Mr. Pacquiao are serving as a motor for Mr. Adiwang as he makes a name for himself in the strawweight division of ONE Championship.

Following his winning at the ONE Warrior Series last year which earned for him a contract in the main draw of the promotion, Mr. Adiwang has steadily climbed the ranks, winning his first two matches with the “big boys” of ONE.

He first defeated Japanese veteran Senzo Ikeda by TKO in October last year before winning by submission over Thai Ponsiri Mitsatit in January.

With the twin wins, Mr. Adiwang improved his MMA record to 11-2.

The Filipino fighter said he is just scratching the surface and he is ready to deal with the challenges that lie ahead in his career to reach the position where he wants to be.

“Right now I’m just focused on being the best that I can be. I really want to prove myself against the best opponents, and I feel I am ready.”

ONE Championship is currently at a pause like many sporting events in the world as the coronavirus disease pandemic rages on.

It hopes to begin staging live events behind closed doors in April and with audience late in May here in Manila. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo