It is difficult to tell looking at the confident martial artist he is today, but former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario was a victim of intense bullying when he was younger.
However, despite how much he suffered, these hard times are what ultimately led him to martial arts, and his calling in life. The 28-year-old Filipino hero is now one of the most exciting athletes competing in ONE Championship today,
Growing up Mankayan, a small town in the Philippines’ Benguet province, Banario described himself as a very shy and timid young boy who lacked self-confidence. This led to other children making fun of him, and teasing him relentlessly in school.
“I would shake and sweat profusely whenever I was called up to the front in recitals,” he recalls. “It was very bad. I hardly had any belief in myself, and all my classmates made fun of me, and called me names behind my back. I was picked on a lot.”
Banario’s peers teased him about his nervousness, which slowly chipped away at his self-esteem to the point that it began to affect his studies. Raised under humble circumstances, education was very important to the Filipino, because it represented a better future for his family. But he recalls not wanting to go to school in fear of getting bullied.
By the age of 10, the bullying had become so extreme, and had such a negative effect on his life, that Banario developed an inferiority complex.
“I just felt like I was nothing, like everyone else was better than me at everything. It was very tough to deal with,” he explains. “I felt lost, and confused. I just had no motivation for anything. I was scared all the time. It was a real problem for me.”
The Filipino knew he had to find a way to turn things around, and looked deep within himself in search for the answer. Ultimately, the answer came in the form of martial arts.
Like many others who train in martial arts, an elevated self-confidence is one of the most important psychological benefits practitioners can receive. For Banario, the training had an instant impact.
“Martial arts gave me the confidence I was longing for,” he says. “Not long after, I became more outgoing, and more outspoken. I developed a better relationship with my classmates, and with my friends. Slowly, the bullying began to stop.”
After making his professional cage debut, “The Rock” quickly found success. He embarked on a perfect 6-0 run, with all his wins coming by stoppage, to capture a Filipino championship.
His next feat was even more impressive – he captured the inaugural ONE Featherweight World Championship in February 2013, after a technical knockout victory over compatriot Eric Kelly.
After losing his featherweight belt, Banario is experiencing a career resurgence in the lightweight division.
He is on a four-bout win streak, and will make his next appearance inside the cage on Friday, 20 April, when he meets well-respected veteran Adrian “The Hunter” Pang at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR in Manila.
All of Banario’s success stems from his tremendous work ethic, and the lessons martial arts taught him in his developmental years. It transformed him from a shy, timid kid who was frequently bullied, to a world champion in the biggest martial arts organization on the planet.
“Martial arts changed my life. It saved me from bullying, and gave me the strength to believe in myself,” he says.
“My message to all the children experiencing the same thing as I did is to know that bullying can be solved. Whether it is training in martial arts, or pursuing other passions, you have to believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”