Jeremy “The Jaguar” Miado desperately wanted to help his family.
Growing up in the Philippines’ Albay province, he was raised in extreme poverty, and experienced the trials and tribulations of going through day-to-day life with very little. That grim reality, however, became the driving force to dig his family out of the trenches, and pursue martial arts in the hopes of a brighter future.
Miado, who is the third of four siblings, grew up in a farming family. After his parents separated, life became gradually more difficult, as his mother was left to raise all four children by herself.
Simply putting food on the table to feed four hungry children already took up most of his mother’s energy, let alone make enough money to send her children to school.
“I knew I had to do something to help out, anything,” the 25-year-old recalls. “I could not watch my mother go through that by herself, so I knew it was up to me to change our situation.”
By the time he graduated from high school, Miado knew putting himself through college would be his own responsibility. He attended Bicol College, and originally studied Criminology, all while working a day job.
“I was a working student. I would start work very early in the morning, and go to school right after,” he explains. “My mother sold vegetables at the wet market. I was also helping her out there. I had very little rest.”
Fortunately, Miado found inspiration in fellow countryman, and eight-division boxing world champion, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. The living legend fought his way out of bleak circumstances, which saw him go from selling fruit and bread on the streets, to packing sold-out arenas all across the world.
“He was my idol,” Miado says. “I wanted to be just like him. Along with everyone else, I began boxing. I had dreams of being just as successful, and it motivated me.”
Although “The Jaguar” garnered a solid amateur record, replicating what the Filipino boxing icon has accomplished was a monumental task.
When a friend introduced Miado to Muay Thai during college, he shifted his interests, and quickly realized he could take his family out of the trenches of extreme poverty.
“I looked to the cage, and things began to change for me,” Miado says.
“I competed professionally on a couple of small shows, and learned that I could make some money. It was not much, but it was enough for me to make an impact on my family’s financial situation. I was also able to pay for my college tuition, which I am forever grateful for.”
After some time, Miado finished school with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology. He was originally planning on becoming a police officer, but instead, he chose to pursue his new dream of becoming a world champion.
Today, he finds himself competing on the global stage of martial arts as a strawweight competitor in ONE Championship. In many ways, he is accomplishing his childhood goal. But still, he knows there is a lot more work to be done.
“Life is very hard when you are poor in the Philippines,” he says.
“I would not want anyone to go through the hardship that we did. Just to feed my family, it is a tough task. To have a brighter future – that is why I keep competing.”
Besides helping his mother and three siblings out, “The Jaguar” is also using the money he is making from his martial arts career to pay for some of his dad’s medical care.
“I still keep in contact with my father, even when my parents broke up. He is still my father, after all,” he continues. “Right now, I am helping him out, and buying medicine for him, because he is ill.”
When a man has his back against the wall, and his family is suffering, there is a natural instinct to do whatever it takes to provide. For Miado, the rigors of poverty brought him to the ONE cage, with dreams of becoming the Philippines’ next sports superstar.
“The Jaguar” does not need any more motivation to capture a victory. All he has to do is reflect on his rough childhood, and think about his family back home in the Albay province. That is all the strength he needs to continue to move forward.
“I will fight for my future the best way I know how,” he says. “And come 24 March, I will take on a legend, and win.”