MANILA, Philippines -- Team Lakay rising star Lito "Thunder Kid" Adiwang endured a rough start to 2021.
The 27-year-old from Baguio City lost his mother on December 30, after having suffered multiple strokes in 2016. It capped a tumultuous year for the young fighter.
"There is nothing a mother wants more than to see her child happy and successful. I know my mother loved me so much, and she just really didn't want me to get hurt, which is why she didn't fully accept me being a fighter with her whole heart," said Adiwang.
"But I chose this career, and I believe she was happy to see me succeed in what I love to do. I know in my heart she is proud of me, and I will continue to live my life in her honor," he vowed.
Members of Team Lakay were quick to come to Adiwang's aid and show their support. The team, led by head coach Mark Sangiao, convened in the first few days of 2021 to attend her funeral service.
After his mother was laid to rest, Adiwang expressed his desire to turn the year around immediately.
"My teammates have always been there for me. They've supported me through the hardest times. They are like family to me. I am very lucky to have a good support system," he said.
"Nothing has changed in my mindset. The goal remains the same for me. I'm climbing to the top. If anything, I just got more motivated and driven. I want to prove myself in this next fight, and to do that, I have to be at my best," he added.
Adiwang will return to the Circle at ONE: Unbreakable, scheduled for January 22 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. It will be his first match since losing a controversial decision to Japan's Hiroba Minowa in November.
For the young Filipino, the experiences of the past few months have only made him stronger and even more motivated to achieve his goals.
"I know the pressure is on, and I can feel the pressure. I know I have to prove myself to the world again, to earn the people's trust. I'm working on coming back stronger than ever," he said.
"I think everything happens for a reason. My setbacks today will be what makes me a better fighter for tomorrow. All the hard work I'm putting in will pay off in God's perfect time," he added.
"I just want to thank everyone for their support in my darkest hour. The race has just begun for me, but I promise to finish strong."