Filipino featherweight contender Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly is inspired by a different kind of hero.
While most of his teammates and rivals found the sport through parents or friends, or were inspired by martial arts stars of the stage and screen, Kelly’s hero was a little different.
His favourite story as a youngster was that of Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw who, along with his Merry Men, robbed the rich to give to the poor.
“I have been a fan of Robin Hood since I was a kid, so I can say he has been my hero all this time. I just find it incredibly noble to be able to help people who are in need,” the 34-year-old explains.
“The ‘give to the poor’ part is what really stuck with me — not the stealing part, of course. Stealing is bad. But to give to people who need help, that is what I really want to do.”
Growing up in the Philippines, Kelly is well aware of the effects of poverty, though he was fortunate enough not to have experienced it himself.
“We did not have much growing up, but we had enough. Other people are not as lucky,” he says.
“For a Filipino, for a human being with a heart, you feel for those who are desperately in need, which is why I am very thankful for the position I am in.
“As a professional athlete, I can help, and it is one of the things I am most proud of.”
Kelly may be a martial artist rather than an archer and swordsman, but he wants to use Robin Hood’s example and help those less fortunate than himself.
“The lesson I learned from Robin Hood is that we should always try to help each other, especially those who really need our help. That is why even if I cannot give money right now, I always try to help in any way I can,” he explains.
“By doing good, being good to people, showing kindness, and inspiring the youth with my performances, it brings joy to me. Just being in this position and seeing how I can touch lives, it gives me a great responsibility.”
Kelly hopes to find real success in ONE Championship, which will allow him to help those in need, and his next bout will give him the opportunity to do just that.
On Saturday 8 September, Kelly takes on former ONE Featherweight Title challenger Christian “The Warrior” Lee at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in Shanghai, China.
And Kelly knows that victory will not only move him a step closer to his dream of winning the ONE Featherweight World Title, but it will also help him to help others.
“At some point, I would love to give some of my earnings back to the Filipino people,” he says.
“I truly believe that is why we have been given this platform — to help those in need. Like my hero, it is all about coming full circle and giving back.
“I would not able to achieve the things I have achieved without help, so I want to help others as well.”