Retired UFC fighter Mark Muñoz intends to promote wrestling in the country, believing it could even help the Philippines realize its long-cherished dream of winning an elusive Olympics gold in the future.
Back in the country to serve as an event ambassador for the UFC: Fight Night Manila set on October 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Muñoz, 38, has taken advantage of the opportunity by expressing his willingness to serve as the catalyst in promoting the sport of wrestling which he has started doing in the United States.
“I want to be able to take the talent here in the Philippines and be able to develop that so that we can go to the Olympics and definitely win gold. I believe we can do that,” said Muñoz on Wednesday during the press launch of the UFC event in the Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
One of the top middleweight contenders who sported a 14-6 win-loss record before calling it quits in 2015, Muñoz is confident the nation that has fallen in love with basketball could thrive in the combat sport which has been the staple of Olympic stagings.
“I’ve been here six times and I haven’t been around the wrestling market here in the Philippines, but I know it exists and I know there are a lot of great athletes here in the Philippines,” said Muñoz, fondly called as “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” for his aggressive skills.
“And pretty much like in basketball: in the province, you see them in their tsinelas or barefeet and playing on a man-made basketball court. And I want to take that, switch it, and I want to see kids wrestling in the grass,” he added.
Dead-serious in promoting the sport, Muñoz has also created the www.thewrestlingroom.com , a website where he teaches wrestling techniques.
“I’m using my knowledge that I’ve garnered over these 28 years and I want to be able to give to my country,” he said.
Muñoz also disclosed he has already started as the program director for USA wrestling, hoping he could do the same for the Philippines.
“Now I’m taking the talent in USA and try to get them going to the Olympics, so I’ve created a curriculum and now I’m going to take that same curriculum and bring it here to the Philippines. That’s my goal,” he said.
Including the sport of wrestling in school curriculum could help make his promotion easier, according to Muñoz.
“I believe wrestling can help all those styles (judo, jiu jitsu). Wrestling is a very important discipline in mixed martial arts, if not the most important one. So for me, to have them in schools, is really a big help,” he said.
Muñoz sounded humbled by being named as “one of the 200 greatest fighter of all time,” him being ranked at 179th overall.
“It’s pretty cool to see. For them to acknowledge me as such, there’s a list of prestigious fighters on that list and just to be on that list is an honor. I got surprised,” he said with a smile. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports