Being short and scrawny, Giovonni Taitingfong was a frequent victim of bullying when he was growing up on Saipan. That’s why he turned to mixed martial arts to help him gain back the confidence he lost from the years of name-calling he received.
“Growing up through my elementary and middle school years was kind of crucial for me. I got picked on during those years. Getting bullied and being called names made me want to train [in] martial arts to have that confidence,” Taitingfong told Saipan Tribune.
He joined and trained in an MMA backyard gym at the age of 13 and from there on Taitingfong knew he found the sport that would help him recover from the bullying he received.
“I fell in love with the competition mindset of the game and went on to where I am now. I hopped to different gyms on Saipan to learn new techniques and further my skills in [MMA],” added the now 18-year-old Taitingfong.
Taitingfong, who was born and raised on Saipan, moved to Guam in his sophomore year to continue his studies where he lived with his bother and sister-in-law.
He used the skills he learned and his renewed self-confidence to win various tournaments in Guam, where he is scheduled to graduate this Friday at George Washington High School in Mangilao.
Taitingfong won gold in the 2014 Takedown Tournament held at the Micronesia Mall and also ruled the 130-lb white belt division of the Copa de Marianas Jiu-Jitsu event last October.
He then made his MMA debut in Trench Warz 19: No Turning Back in November where he defeated Jadrien Camacho by triangle submission with 2:14 left in the first round.
He capped his undefeated wrestling season by winning gold in the All Island Wrestling Tournament held at the Father Duenas Memorial School. He was undefeated after 12 matches.
“I always look forward for whatever is up for me. I know that I still have a long way ahead of me in the sport and hope to grow and make a name for myself in the near future. It is only the beginning,” added the Vida Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Guam fighter.
“Everything I do I always think about my island and I will never forget where I came from.”
He will return to Saipan after graduation to spend time with his family before he takes the exam to join the U.S. Army Reserve.