WHAT he has been tasked to do for the US, Mark Muñoz also hopes to replicate in the Philippines.
The retired Filipino-American Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star, who has been appointed as the Future Olympian program director for USA wrestling, is also seeking to impart his knowledge and experience to his countrymen in the Philippines.
Munoz is a US NCAA wrestling champion in college.
“Now, I’m taking the talent in USA and try to get them going to the Olympics, so I’ve created a curriculum and now I’m going to take that same curriculum and bring it here to the Philippines,” said Muñoz, who’s in the country as the event ambassador for this edition of UFC: Fight Night Manila.
“I want to be able to take the talent here in the Philippines and be able to develop that so that we can go to the Olympics and definitely win gold,” he added. “I believe we can do that.”
The Philippines has tasted little success in wrestling in the international stage, with its last triumph in the 1954 Asian Games where it won three medals in the sport: two silvers courtesy of featherweight Mansueto Napilay and middleweight Nicolas Arcales, and one bronze thanks to flyweight Basilio Fabila.
“I’ve been here six times and I haven’t been around the wrestling market in the Philippines, but I know it exists and I know there are a lot of great athletes here in the Philippines,” Muñoz said.
“And pretty much like in basketball: in the province, you see them in their tsinelas or barefoot and playing on a man-made basketball court. And I want to take that, switch it, and I want to see kids wrestling in the grass,” the former NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler added.
Muñoz has already made the first steps in the right direction and giving back to the community as he started a tour around the different gyms in the metro for some workouts.
The 38-year-old MMA star paid a visit to Ultimate Fitness gym on Tuesday where he taught some 40 local wrestlers.
“Honestly, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but the talent is rich,” admitted Muñoz, who created www.thewrestlingroom.com, a website where he teaches wrestling techniques.
“I’m using my knowledge that I’ve garnered over these 28 years and I want to be able to give to my country,” he said.