‘This is what saved me’: Drex Zamboanga shares life-changing experience in MMA

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) – December 18, 2020 – 11:46am

MANILA, Philippines — The participation of minors in full-contact sports such as mixed martial arts has been a hot topic with the Philippine sports community with House Bill 1526 seeking to ban minors from competing from combat sports.

But more than a few combat sports figures in the country have expressed their dissent against the proposed bill that will stunt the development of full-contact sports and its athletes in the country.

One of these figures is up and coming ONE Championship fighter Drex Zamboanga. The reigning URCC Bantamweight titleholder spoke to Philstar.com about the impact martial arts had with him as a young athlete which will essentially disappear if the bill is passed.

“Very against it talaga ako,” Zamboanga said of the bill. “Ako nag-start ako magmartial arts, minor ako 13-year-ols palang ako,”

“Naging professional fighter ako at 18-years-old, hindi ako magiging professional fighter kung hindi ko naranasang maging athlete noong kabataan ko,” he added.

Zamboanga questioned the future of Filipinos, particularly in mixed martial arts, if minors will not be allowed to participate and train for their future.

As it stands, Zamboanga says, the Philippines is already late to the party when it comes to developing its talents in the big stages.

“Ano na magiging future natin sa mga susunod pa na mga malalaking MMA league? Kasi kung tutuusin, late na nga tayo sa mixed martial arts… Mas madedelay yung improvement natin as an athlete,” said Zamboanga.

But even more than what early exposure to MMA gave him in terms of his future, Zamboanga talked about the impact of being an athlete outside of the cage. 

The 27-year-old says that it was MMA that “saved” him in his childhood.

“Yung MMA ang nagsalba sakin, kaya ako nalayo sa mga away… Dati akong victim ng bullying, yun yung nag-push sakin na mag-train ng martial arts,” said Zamboanga.

“Di ko naman siya ginamit in a negative way, in a positive way,” he added.

Zamboanga’s younger sister, Denice, shared her brother’s sentimes. She also cited the use of mixed martial arts as a form of self defense for women.

“Yung martial arts, isa siya nagtuturo ng self-discipline, tapos natuto ka rin mag-self-defense,” said Denice, one of ONE Championship’s top contenders in the women’s atomweight division.

“Kapag nawala yun sa mga minor, paano na sila matuto? Paano nila madidiscipline yung sarili nila? O madedefend yung sarili nila?” she quipped.

Fellow Filipino MMA fighters in Joshua Pacio and Stephen Loman also expressed their disagreement with the proposed House bill.

READ: Team Lakay champs slam bill banning minors from full-contact sports

A hearing on the controversial bill was held at the House last Wednesday.





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