Iniong contemplated retirement after she learned of her pregnancy, but the Filipina and her head coach Mark Sangiao sat down and decided that now is not the time to make such a life-changing decision.
“She thought about retirement, but I told her, ‘Don’t think about it yet.’ I told her to focus on her pregnancy and then maybe she can make decisions after if she really wants to stop,” Sangiao says.
“I told her that it is hard to decide right now. I’ve seen a lot of people retire, then come out of retirement. It’s best for her to just focus on her well-being and pregnancy, and then worry about the next steps in her career later.”
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Iniong is certainly at the peak of her career now.
“Conviction” won a 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medal in kickboxing last December, and then she earned a convincing decision victory over Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka at ONE: FIRE & FURY this past January.
Then came the life-altering news of her becoming a mother, and it changed everything.
“Even before the SEA Games, she was telling me that she wanted to focus on her family. She said they’re getting older and they already want to have a child,” Sangiao explains.
“This is such a huge blessing for her. She wanted this for a long time, and it was given.”
It may be a long time before fans see Iniong step back into the Circle, but she has the full support of both ONE Championship and Team Lakay as she begins a new journey in her life.
“We cannot really tell if Gina Iniong will return. It’s her decision. We cannot really say,” Sangiao adds.
“We told ONE already about it, and they sent their congratulations. They also told her not to think about retirement at this time. It’s her life and whatever she does, we’ll support her.”