“The sport was interesting to me. I was encouraged with a group of people I was a part of, to do martial arts. Being the young guys that we were, we started practicing in the streets. After witnessing the first edition of URCC live, I remember telling myself that I will join the next one. From there, I joined the second, fourth, fifth and the sixth editions, and that’s how I got into MMA full-time. Grappling is when you’re on the ground and you try to submit your opponent with a choke or a lock. Stand up is more of striking. These skills are related to boxing or kickboxing. You need to know the disciplines like the ground and stand up game before you become a professional. What happens in fight camp is that the training is brought at an extreme level so that when you’re in the actual match, it’s just a walk in the park for you. Maraming kasabihan na if you love your teammate, sasaktan mo siya. Some camps actually don’t encourage you to apologize. I had to cope with so many things during my adolescent years. Being an achiever, being away from my family since they were in the province while I was here [in Manila] trying to fit in. Martial arts was one of the many things that helped me establish myself. I wanted to be physically fit, I wanted to fight this illness. It became a metaphor for me. I want to build an international champion locally, whether that’s me or somebody else. I prefer if it is someone else and for that person to be recognized. I was fortunate to witness the evolution [of the sport.] Your sponsors are just coming in, you don’t make a lot of money yet. I want that market to grow. We have so many talents. I want to be remembered as a mentor. I want to be someone who shared unselfishly what I have learned and imparted values to others. Coming from a period when my life was a mess, I want to mold people and guide them in times of their lives not as a champion but as a mentor.” ~Louie Sangalang, a Multi-Sport Athlete
|Louie Sangalang, a Multi-Sport Athlete|
Mixed martial arts, also known as MMA, is a full-combat sport where two fighters attempt to achieve dominance over one another using techniques from various combat sports and martial arts. Louie Sangalang, a multi-sport athlete, has accomplished so much in his life. And at age 40, stopping seems nowhere in sight for him as he continues to make strides among different facets in life, including the fierce arena, where intellect and strength are always tested—the mixed martial arts. Considered to be one of the fastest growing and most popular sports in the world, MMA has only started to get recognition in the Philippines in the last few years.
One of the people who took an interest in the sport when it was just taking off in the country is Sangalang. From a young aspirant, Sangalang rose to the occasion as he competes for big arenas, inside and outside of the country.
Going through cancer
Before MMA, Sangalang was already active in different sports. In college, he was a part of the rowing team and track team of De La Salle University (DLSU.) However, the life of the sports enthusiast took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with cancer—specifically, acute adenocarcinoma of the appendix or appendiceal cancer.
However, Sangalang did not let what seems to be the biggest challenge in his life get to him. While going through the process of recovery, he took an interest in jujitsu, boxing, and kickboxing. This eventually became an avenue for him to pursue martial arts.
Sangalang’s liking for the sport was further strengthened when his college buddy organized the local promotion for the Ultimate Reality Combat Championship (URCC.)
Training for a fight
Sangalang explained that pursuing MMA entails that you know the different disciplines involved in the sport. They can be classified as striking and grappling skills.
However, the sport is not grappling and striking alone. It also requires mental strength and focuses. For Sangalang, this mindset translates to putting together different disciplines to win the fight. For instance, a bit of muay thai, tai sabaki, and karate does the trick for striking while judo, aikido, jujitsu, and combat sambo for grappling.
In preparing for a match, the multi-sport athlete explained that it is ideal to have an eight week to 12-week fight camp with the assumption that the person already knows the basics.
No matter how good you are at the sport, on the other hand, injuries are hard to avoid. In fact, most injuries according to Sangalang happens in fight camp, and he is no newbie when it comes to these things. He shared that he popped two of his ribs, broke the tip of his nose, and sprained his joints, fingers, wrists, and ankles, among many others, during his training and fights.
|Louie Sangalang, a Multi-Sport Athlete|
More than just a sport
More than the physical pain that injuries and bruises inflicted on Sangalang’s body, he also went through emotional troubles. He noted that growing up, he had a lot of angsts, and the sport was one of the things that helped him get through it.
The sport also became his anchor when he got sick. While healing, this became the young Sangalang’s mindset as he expels all his frustrations about the world.
Being a mentor
Sangalang understands that his physical being will weaken as he gets older. But, one thing that he would like to avoid is for his mental faculties to deteriorate. That is why he is doing everything in his power to share his knowledge and skills.
Sangalang is slated to teach at Elite Fit in Santé Fitness Lab in Vermosa Sports Hub. He is part of the Santé Fight Team, an initiative of Santé, a company that provides premier organic health and wellness products and services designed to improve the quality of life of people. It aims to support more athletes in other sports, which in turn inspire more distributors and Santé product users.
Aside from being an MMA fighter, Sangalang is also a triathlete. He is a part of the Santé Barley Tri-team, a triathlon team founded by Joey Marcelo, CEO of Santé. The company believes that optimal health is not only achieved through proper nutrition but also by participating in various sports events.
Overcoming his troubles in life prove to be well worth it when he became a champion in his weight class, which he shared was his favorite moment as an MMA fighter. But more than that, he also wants to help create titleholders in the future.
About SantéFounded in 2007, Santé promotes, produces and distributes premier natural health and wellness products; as well as services, designed to help people live better lives. With Santé Barley as its flagship brand, Santé has dominated the local market with its certified organic barley grass -- grown and harvested in New Zealand. With the proven health benefits of Santé Barley, Santé has developed a comprehensive selection of everyday barley-based products. Today, Santé has expanded its offerings to include a fitness and rehabilitation center with its Santé Fitness Lab; and an array of natural products that are true to the company's thrust in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Headquartered in the Philippines, Santé has offices worldwide such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE, Qatar, Niger