Like many young men from rural areas of the Philippines, Jeremy Miado was brought up in a farming family, with agriculture the main driver of the economy in the Bicol Region. Often, this is a hand-to-mouth existence, where the inhabitants are sustained by the work that they do, but not much more.
However, it is not always the case. There are always those who find a way to achieve success.
“I was a happy-go-lucky kid with a lot of energy up till my teenage days,” the 24-year-old recounts about his early years in the region’s Albay province. “That is when I realized education was important to bring my family out of poverty.”
This is not an uncommon story. It can be education or the lure of big cities that pulls young adults away from the farms and into the urban centers, in an effort to earn higher wages to help their loved ones.
With this in mind, the man now known as “The Jaguar” enrolled in Bicol College to become a Criminology undergraduate. This would, he assumed, lead him on the road to becoming a police officer. This was when his path in the martial arts saw him branch off from the beaten track, with rapidly changing goals and aspirations.
Growing up, his idol was legendary boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao, and it was not unusual for him and his friends to toy around with the sweet science.
Though it was just a few buddies playing around back then, Miado’s commitment to boxing took a serious turn when he was 20. That is when he strapped on the gloves for real and started competing, hoping to emulate his hero and overcome poverty with his fists.
He showed lots of promise, accumulating 32 wins and two losses as an amateur boxer, but the paid ranks were not meant to be. With no promoters in the region to take young prospects on a route towards money and success, he needed a different angle.
“I chose to switch my career to the cage, so I started training,” remembers Miado, who made his debut in January 2016. “I started my professional career there [in Bicol] for two years, and then I decided to move to Manila, as there are a lot more opportunities.”
While martial arts can be found all over the Philippines, the fighting capital of Manila is where the sport has really taken hold, with world-class coaches in various disciplines coming from different areas of the globe.
Just some of the many venues “The Jaguar” frequents in metro Manila includes UGB MMA Gym in Marikina City, where he is mostly training in anticipation of his second promotional bout in ONE Championship.
Miado (6-1), a former Blaze FC Strawweight Champion with a combined boxing and Muay Thai record of 76-7, will meet undefeated Thai Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit (8-0) at ONE: HERO’S DREAM, which takes place at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday, 3 November.
Where boxing could not reach, martial arts could. Regional promotions were popping up and providing fighters the chance to get paid. Then, there was ONE Championship, standing tall in the Asian martial arts scene and giving aspiring world champions something to aim for.
“I want to compete because this is my passion,” Miado says. “That is why I chose the cage instead of going to be a policeman. My parents support me. They want me to compete because they know I enjoy it.”
From the farm, to college, to fight night at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium, Miado’s goals have changed rapidly. His ascent to prominence in the Filipino scene shows that he has the aptitude for the sport he loves. He wants to transfer that into success, and believes he can accomplish that in ONE Championship.
“Pacquiao is a superstar in boxing. Everybody knows him,” he states. “My plan is to do my best to have a name like his in ONE Championship.”