Filipino kickboxer Jean Claude Saclag. Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas/TEAM LAKAY PHOTO

Filipino kickboxer Jean Claude Saclag. Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas/TEAM LAKAY PHOTO

HANOI — The country will vie for six gold medals in kickboxing on Friday and with extra high hopes on a fighter named after a movie star who helped popularized the sport.

Hailing from Kalinga and Benguet, Jean Claude Saclag, 27, is a product of the the Baguio’s school sports program that focuses on combat sports.

“He is one of these young fighters who wanted to avail of scholarship that’s why they took up the sport,” said one of the team coaches who accompanied the 12-man strong in Bac Ninh.

Saclag typifies the team’s culture of “all-out performance,” which enabled him to win the wushu world junior championship and Asian Games silver.

The fighters are all fresh and unscathed from preliminaries, according to the coaches that includes head mentor Mark Sangiao, Donnie Geisler (kicking) and Glen Mondol (boxing).

Of the 12, only six remained in contention for the gold with Saclag, the 2019 champion, as the last man standing in the tough men’s competitions.

Saclag will take on Thailand’s Santidongsakun Friday night in the men’s -63-kilogram division.

Also gunning for the title is another defending champion Gina Iniong who squares off with Thai Jaiteang Waraporn in women’s -60kg.

Renalyn Dasalla Daquel will step into the ring against a hometown bet Nguyen Thi Nang in the -48k finals, followed by Gretel de Paz who will face Pieter Ariesta of Indonesia in the -56kg.

Zephania Ngaya will battle Huynh Thi Kim of Vietnam in -65kg championship, while Claudine Veloso will vie for top prize against Manada La-Loupatty of Indonesia.

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