Reece McLaren is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, talented athletes in the ONE Championship flyweight division, but perhaps the biggest factor behind his success as a martial artist has been his remarkable work ethic.
His inspiration came from his stepfather Vincent, who raised McLaren and his brother on Christmas Island.
“I have never called him my stepdad, ever. He has always been my dad,” says the 26-year-old Gold Coast, Australia native.
“He worked hard, and he provided us with a very, very comfortable lifestyle. I have been very lucky to have him in my life.”
McLaren’s dad didn’t persuade him to take up martial arts, or pass down any martial arts experience of his own. Instead, he inspired his son through his incredible work ethic and commitment as he worked a succession of manual labour jobs to make ends meet and provide for his family.
“He just worked so hard, day in and day out. He still works just as hard as he did when he was 20,” McLaren explains.
“For me, that is where I draw a lot of inspiration – just the way he handles himself. He is a total gentleman. That is the best way I can describe it.
“It is like being at zero. There is no way out of zero, but once you see someone can make something out of nothing, it is right there – the proof is in the pudding. It lets you know that you have just got to work for the things you want.”
As well as providing for his family, McLaren’s father also threw his full support behind his son’s martial arts career. When McLaren submitted Gianni Subba at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in March in Malaysia, he was cageside with “Lightning’s” brother to lend his support.
“I have been so blessed and lucky to have such a supportive family,” he says.
“My dad was at my last bout. We got him a corner pass and everything, so it was awesome having him and my brother in my corner. He is just very proud, and that makes me happy when I am striving for success.”
McLaren stands on the cusp of a World Title shot, but first must get past DEEP Flyweight Champion Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS on 7 July.
If he is successful and earns a shot at Geje Eustaquio and the ONE Flyweight World Title, McLaren would love nothing more than to challenge for the World Title with his whole family in attendance.
“I would love to have my whole family there,” he says.
“I have been so blessed. I got such a great family to support me. Like I said, I never, ever, ever called him my stepdad. He has always been my dad.”