Filipino-American muay thai fighter Jackie Buntan takes pride in her Filipino roots when she enters the Circle this Friday, having been raised in Los Angeles, California watching boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
“I know it’s like the most common thing, but [I am] definitely inspired by Manny Pacquiao,” said Buntan, who is set for her ONE Championship debut against Thai rising star Wondergirl Fairtex in their strawweight muay thai bout in ONE: Fists of Fury at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Feb. 26.
“Especially being a Filipino, there’s always a big family party watching his fights. I didn’t even know much about boxing, but it was just still cool to see him do what he does, and all that he does for the Filipino people as well.”
Pacquiao’s work ethic and rags-to-riches story became an inspiration for the 23-year-old Buntan, adding that passion comes into fruition once hard work is applied over time.
Buntan wants to follow the footsteps of the eight-division world boxing champion, but this time in muay thai and kickboxing in the Singapore-based promotion.
The Fil-Am muay thai specialist soon hopes to experience fighting on Philippine soil and in front of the Filipino crowd as well when the global situation eases in the future.
Since she has never been to the Philippines, this is just one of the ways for Buntan to represent the country and reconnect with her Filipino roots.
The youngest of four siblings, Buntan was the only one born and raised in California while her three sisters were all born in Manila to Filipino parents Jessie Buntan and Rosalie Saenz before they moved to the US.
“When I told my family about ONE, the first thing they said was I needed to fight in the Philippines. I have so many relatives over there. It will be great to be able to fight in front of them for the first time, and have them see what I do,” said Buntan, who holds a 9-3 muay thai record.
Against Wondergirl, Buntan will face a top muay thai prospect who took down Fil-Am KC Carlos with a second-round stoppage on August 28 last year, which was only a week after an impressive debut against Australian Brooke Farrell by way of knockout.