Adrian “The Hunter” Pang knows when he started finding success in his career, because it happened almost the exact same time he met his wife 16 years ago.
Pang, who makes his return to action at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR on Friday, 20 April, against Honorio Banario in Manila, Philippines, was still very young in his professional martial arts career when he met the love of his life.
He remembers how that moment changed everything for him.
“I did not really start winning in my professional career until I met her,” the 40-year-old Brisbane, Australia resident explains.
“I just loved hanging out with her. She made life so easy. She definitely made me start dressing better. You know, we (men) do not have the best fashion sense. After 16 years, things are not always easy, but she is just so cool.
“She is always there for me. She is always understanding when I am away for training, or I am away competing. Almost every Saturday night, I am away at an event, because one of my boys is competing. You could not find a cooler woman, that is for sure.”
Pang initially met her during a random night out with his buddies.
The group happened to be out for a night of fun when, all of a sudden, he found himself speaking with a lady named Melina. She initially had no idea what he did for a living, but what attracted Pang to her was she did not seem to care at all about material possessions.
“I met her out with some of my friends, and my friends have a lot of money, so some of these girls were just peeling off on my mate. It just disgusts me when people are after guys for money, but she was in the group of girls, and she was paying no attention to the guys with money,” Pang recollects.
“That is what attracted me to her. She did not give a crap that this guy had a Ferrari, or had money. So I just started talking to her, and we became friends. Then we started hanging out, and 16 years later, here we are.”
It was partially thanks to his wife that Pang relocated to Australia full-time, after originally traveling back and forth between there and his home in Papua New Guinea.
With that move, and his marriage to Melina, Pang suddenly started finding a lot of success in his martial arts career. In fact, he rattled off 16 wins out of his next 21 bouts.
During that time, “The Hunter” also welcomed two children to the world — first, a son, and then a daughter a few years later.
Much like his wife, Pang says growing up, his kids actually had no idea what their father did for a career, because when he came home from the gym, he turned into a total family man that no one would recognize as a lightweight world title contender in ONE Championship.
Once again, he praises his wife for allowing him the time to stay focused on training, and competing, even after his kids were born.
“My son was barely walking when I was competing [for the Cage Fighting Championship Lightweight World Title] in 2009. She never expected me to take time off for the kids,” Pang explains.
“She was a devoted mother, and wife. If I was competing, I was competing. Nothing really changed. My kids are cool. They are older now, but growing up they did not realize what I did. I did not have my belts and photos everywhere, so I just had a normal home life.”
Now, as his children have gotten older — his son is nine, and his daughter is six — they understand exactly what their dad does for a living, and his career has earned him a few extra points with the other kids in school.
“My son’s friends all think I am cool because I do martial arts,” Pang says with a laugh.
For all the passion he has for martial arts, however, “The Hunter” promises he will never force that onto his children. He wants them to live out their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.
Luckily, it just so happens that Pang’s son actually enjoys training in the martial arts. It is just a father-son bonding experience for now, with the only intention of having fun.
“My son does taekwondo, so he is a little weapon himself. My son can box, and he can throw up triangles, but we do it for fun,” he explains.
“Maybe one day he will be a ONE World Champion in 10 years, or something. If my son wants to compete, then I will give him everything I have to make him the best he can be. If he never wants to do martial arts, then I will support him in whatever he wants to be.”
However, more than anything, Pang just wants to give Melina and his two children the best life possible. After all, they mean more to him than any championship title ever could.
“I am a dedicated family man, big time,” he says. “My wife and my kids mean the world to me.”