Every time Danny “The King” Kingad steps into the ONE Championship cage, it is in pursuit of a lifelong dream, one that he has had since a young boy growing up in Baguio City in the Philippines. That dream is to become a martial arts world champion.
Having already conquered the Filipino and regional wushu scenes, winning several titles along the way, only one target remains – the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
Although he fell short in his first bid against reigning kingpin Adriano Moraes this past November, Kingad reflects on what had gotten him to this point, and the desperate need for some order in his once-turbulent life.
“I played baseball in school when I was younger. I was a lot scrawnier then, just a regular teenager who loved to party and hang out with friends. You could say I was a bit of a troublemaker back then,” the Filipino admits.
“I was out of control at times, but nothing out of what you would normally expect from a rebellious teenager. It was not until I discovered martial arts that my life took direction.”
Kingad discovered his talent for martial arts during his sophomore year at Pinsao National High School, when his cousin urged him to practice wushu. He made the institution’s varsity team, followed by the college wushu team at the University of the Cordilleras.
“When I took up wushu, it instantly changed my life. The discipline that it instilled in me still stays with me today, even as I enter my fourth year as a professional in just a few months,” he says.
“Martial arts really has had a huge impact on my growth as an individual. I have seen so many hardships throughout my life and my career, and to see how far I have come, it really puts things in perspective for me.”
Although “The King” now enjoys a promising future in the cage, it was difficult for his family to accept that their beloved kin would pursue a competitive martial arts career.
Like many others, Kingad’s family thought of martial arts initially as just senseless fighting, even though one of his older brothers was a former kickboxer in the 1980s. On top of that, they were afraid that it might be too dangerous, and tried advising him against it.
“Many people, including my family, at first thought that I was crazy when I wanted to get into martial arts. They thought it was all just about fighting, and they even tried to get me to stop. But I was stubborn. I had an amazing dream of becoming one of the best martial artists in the world, and I just would not stop,” he says.
“I needed martial arts because it also paid for my education. Now, seeing how far I have come, my family is proud of me. I want to now continue to be a source of inspiration for them.”
“The King” also wants to spur on the community that raised him.
Growing up in Baguio City, things were never easy for Kingad. He was fortunate enough, however, to have a loving family, but says that some kids in the northern Filipino metropolis are not as fortunate.
Knowing this, the former ONE Flyweight World Title challenger is motivated to use his status to inspire the youth, and help set them on the right path.
“Now my mission is to inspire others like me, those kids who were born into unfortunate circumstances, who maybe did not have the best things in life growing up,” he explains.
“I really want to help people, especially the kids in Baguio. Some kids here are very strong and incredibly talented, but there are a lot of temptations, too, and some of them fall into bad habits. I can relate to that because I have experienced it. But I also know that martial arts can fix all of that.”
Martial arts has proven to drastically change lives for the better, as it has for Kingad. Now, all he has to do is focus on learning from his loss against Moraes, climb the ladder once again, and persevere in pursuit of his dreams.