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MANILA, Philippines – When former ONE strawweight muay thai world title contender Jackie Buntan fights for ONE Championship on US soil, she knows that she’ll be fighting for something bigger than herself.
The Filipino-American takes on Diandra Martin in a crucial three-round muay thai bout on the main card of ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on May 6 (Manila time) at the sold-out 1stBank Center in Colorado.
While she’s excited to make her first ONE appearance in her home country, Buntan knows there will be a lot of eyes on her, particularly from the large Fil-Am community in the United States.
And she’s proud to be able to represent the community on such a large stage.
“I think [representation] is extremely important. Not just for me, or being in muay thai or being an athlete, that goes for whatever a Filipino-American is doing,” she said.
“Any kind of job, the fact that you’re able to immigrate here, get accustomed to the new lifestyle, the American lifestyle, make it work for you, and be successful at that.”
“[It’s] such a tall order, and I think it’s super important to have more role models showcasing that whether in sports, the medical field, the business field, wherever.”
Born in the US to full-blooded Filipino parents, Buntan knows that somewhere there’s a young Filipina-American who’s only beginning to figure out her life in the United States.
That is why it’s important for such people to see her rise, impress, and succeed in her chosen field. After all, it serves as further motivation for those still adjusting to life in the US.
“The fact that we all have similarities and know that someone like us can do it, inspires more people. More young people in the world believe in themselves, challenge themselves, and go after things that are hard,” she said.
When Buntan walks down the ramp to compete, she’ll have the backing not only from the Filipino-American community in the country, but also from the very passionate fanbase that she’s built here in the Philippines.
She promises to show the same passion and fire that most Filipinos are known for.
“Whether you’re an athlete, or a non-athlete, we all have in our hearts that we’re all very passionate. Filipinos are very passionate,” she said.
“They show their hearts on their sleeves. They have heart. They have grit, and when you mix the two with combat sports, that’s where you’ll find greatness.”
“Like [Manny] Pacquiao, [he’s] the number one example. He has all of that: passion, grit, determination, resilience. I think it’s embedded in all of us.” – Rappler.com