Team Lakay’s Edward Kelly has etched his name in mixed martial history with the help of the number “21.”
The number plays a significant role in Kelly’s life even up to now amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For those who are unfamiliar, Kelly made history in ONE Championship after finishing Meas Meul with a lethal head kick back in 2018, sending his Cambodian foe down to the canvas face-first.
In front of the Filipino crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena, he only needed 21 seconds to mark the promotion’s fastest knockout in the featherweight division.
Since then, Kelly, who currently holds a 12-8 record, cemented his legacy in MMA.
That’s why when he decided to venture into business, the first thing he thought of was the number “21.”
For almost a year now, Kelly has been running a water ration/refilling station called the “21 Seconds” located at the boundaries of Benguet and Baguio City.
“Nagsimula ‘yun noong before pa ng fight [against Meul]. Mahaba-habang plano — naplano ko na ‘yun one year ahead pero dahan-dahan kong napundar,” Kelly told Manila Bulletin in a phone interview Saturday night.
Kelly’s vision wouldn’t be possible without the initial share of land given by his parents. From there on, the Team Lakay stalwart started the groundwork and renovated the building where the water station is based.
“Kaya ‘yung time na nagpapagawa na ng pangalan [para sa business permit], pumunta sa isip ko, nailagay ko “21 Seconds.”
The economic effect of the coronavirus pandemic became one of the hurdles Kelly had to face in sustaining the business. And even before things got rough, the 36-year-old Igorot warrior recalled having difficulty in meeting tons of requirements for the permit alone.
Despite these adversities, Kelly is nothing but grateful since opening shop in August last year.
“Pag nag-start ka ‘di po [dapat] mag-expect na mag-boom agad. Sa awa naman ng Diyos, at least ‘di ako nag-uupa kaya nagpapasalamat pa rin ako,” Kelly added. “Nakikita ko ‘yung pinaghirapan [ko] kahit minsan iniisip ko na kung papaano palalakasin ‘to.”
When not busy in training as “The Ferocious” or supervising the water station as “Mr. 21,” Kelly does sideline work for extra income as a substitute driver for the boss of his brother Eric.
“Minsan, hatid-sundo ako. Kasi merong boss kuya ko. Minsan pag busy si kuya Erik, ako yung papalit sa kanya [at] ipag-drive ko ‘yung boss niya.”
Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao and veteran fighter Eduard Folayang showed some love on Kelly’s achievement, lauding him on their respective social media pages.
Aside from Kelly, teammate Jeremy Pacatiw, a bantamweight fighter in Brave Combat Federation, also recently launched an online dessert shop with his partner Marjorie Ay-yawan
These go to show that the way of martial arts doesn’t stop in the sport itself but continues in real life. Just like what martial arts legend Bruce Lee said: Be water, my friend.