In a rare show of unity, various martial arts clubs and organizations in the Philippines have agreed to set aside their long-time rivalries to form a super body for the sport of kickboxing.
Among those who have pledged allegiance to the soon-to-be formalized Kickboxing Alliance of the Philippines, Inc. (KAPI) are the gyms affiliated to the National Kickboxing Council of the Philippines (NKCP) led by kickboxing pioneers and masters Emmanuel Sabrine, Larry Baluyan and Monith Pabroa.
“If this is for the country, we are entrusting our respected names to the alliance to further promote the sport. We would like to give our country more pride and honors in this sport that is very natural for the Filipinos, who are born warriors,” said Sabrine, who heads the council composed of nearly a hundred affiliates.
Sabrine is also president of the Southeast Asian Fighting Championship (SAFC), an amateur fight league that focuses on striking skills of those aspiring to become professional mixed martial arts fighters.
Pabroa, himself a former kickboxing champion, is one of the most-sought-after coaches and has under his care some of the best martial arts gyms in Metro Manila like Cerberus and Team Elements. Baluyan heads New Blood Gym.
Also making their commitment to kickboxing alliance were Brico Santig, the Philippine representative of the World Kickboxing League (WKL) and co-owner of FIST, a fight league based in Benguet, north of Philippines, Phil Kamao’s Gerald Bassig and Yaw-Yan Kampilan’s Rennie Ross, Rey Abequibel and Ray Biagtan of Biagtan MMA Fitness.
Bassig has been organizing amateur kickboxing events called MUT at its home gym at the Victory Mall in Caloocan, with participants coming from major gyms in Luzon.
“Maganda po yang magsama-sama na kami lahat para makabuo ng malakas na koponan that will carry the national flag in international competitions,” said Bassig, son of Phil Kamao founder Nicholas.
Santig, who owns the Benguet-based Highland Gym for boxers and kickboxers, meanwhile has produced some of the best amateur Igorot kickboxers, including Rex Wao who have turned to professional boxing due to lack of income opportunities for local kickboxers.
“Wala naman kasing income sa Pilipinas sa kickboxing at wala namang professional dito. Karamihan nagsisimula bilang kickboxers then nagiging pro boxers or pro MMA fighters,” said Brico.
“With this alliance of the major gyms in the country, maraming fighters ang lalakas ang laro dahil dadami ang tournaments na sasalihan na ng lahat. We will be able to form a very competitive team that can be sent abroad.”
Other active martial arts personalities like Beh Barothy Hung of Cagayan de Oro and Department of Education Assistant secretary Alain Pascua will also be invited by the lead convenor Randy Caluag of MP Highland Manila who will confer with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission.
KAPI intends to get recognition from the POC and plans to organize regional and nationwide tournaments to form the Philippine national pool.
“Finally, we’ll have an official kickboxing body that is recognized by everybody and composed of legit people,” said Ross.