Features

24 Hours with… Loren Mack of One Championship

In this 24 hours with, Loren Mack – One Championship vice-president of PR and communications – recounts the recent fight night in Singapore where local hero and martial artist Angela Lee triumphed again, plus a sports conference that same day which saw Michael Phelps come to town

5:00am: I’m up early. I always am. This job blurs the lines between sleep and the awake state a bit as there’s a lot of work to be done.

But it’s a good, honest job and I love hard work. I go through emails and voice messages. It is a new day filled equally with challenges and opportunities.

7:30am: A ton of media are waiting downstairs, ready to rock and roll. This year, in addition to the event [the recent Singapore fight night where homegrown fighter Angela Lee triumphed again], we organised a massive business conference in conjunction with Nielsen. And one of our special guests is Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps.

Mack takes the mic

I am an American through and through, and Michael is one of our true national heroes. It is an honour and a privilege to be working with him. It’s definitely a challenge to have two events on the same day, but it’s a lot of fun too. I prepared myself physically and mentally for the long day ahead.

8:30am: I brief my team on the importance of execution, especially when the challenges seem insurmountable. I am a firm believer in bringing out the best in the worst situations. When everything seems impossible, this is where true human potential begins to shine.

The team gather all media to the chartered bus and we are off to the Marina Bay Sands convention centre just in time for the opening keynote by One Championship chairman and CEO, Chatri Sityodtong.

9:00am: Chatri delivers his opening speech, kicking off the inaugural ‘What’s Next in Global Sports’ conference.

10:30am: The media is clustered together as Chatri enters the room for the scrum. Everyone is excited about the event, which of course featured one of our biggest stars in the ‘unstoppable’ Angela Lee, and her younger brother Christian.

They both represent Singapore in separate world title bouts tonight. I love it when the media ask fantastic questions. It really shows how much they truly know and care about the sport.

2:00pm: We are a bit behind schedule, but I am confident my team can pull it off. Michael Phelps was supposed to do an exclusive media session with a handful of Singaporean media, and they were all ready and waiting but Michael needed a little more time to get ready.

He is, of course, not part of One Championship, so it is challenging to find a way to get an international superstar to move quicker and adhere to our timetable. I think one of the hardest parts of my job is interrupting people and getting them to follow our PR obligations, knowing that it’s probably the last thing on their minds.

3:00pm: I finally manage to grab Michael by fending off a throng of fans mobbing him on the way to the conference. In the blink of an eye, we are in the media room and everyone is excited to meet the gold medal legend.

Olympic swimmer Phelps in a suit

It was an incredibly proud moment for me, working with such a remarkable individual. I work with the world’s greatest athletes and martial artists on a daily basis, but Michael Phelps is an American legend, and I have a deep love for my country.

4:00pm: After about a half an hour, we are done with the session and we are still running late. Usually at this hour, I would already be at the stadium setting up, getting ready to face a whole different storm.

But this time around, I am still at the conference. The challenge of flagging down a taxi in the middle of rush hour in Singapore, it’s tough. But I know I have to get to the stadium as soon as possible. After a few minutes, I finally get a cab and I’m off to the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

6:00pm: Arrive at the arena, I have to get to work immediately. I go to the back room to change into my event outfit, literally and figuratively put on the suit that I have donned at every event.

At this point, I’m ready to go. Media registration opens and everyone flocks in to register and claim their credentials. Meanwhile, I’m waiting inside the media pit ready to greet them. We have a mere hour to go to one of the biggest nights in martial arts history.

8:00pm: By this time, we usually have all the media settled in, and most of them are. But this was such a huge event and the media list was long, so it is understandable that a handful were going to be late coming in.

I work with my team to provide anything the media needs, which includes one-on-one’s with athletes, exclusive content, even down to basic food and water. Although athletes do interviews in the cage after their bouts, some media like to have immediate one-on-one’s backstage.

11:30pm: Martial artists Mei Yamaguchi walks out to her familiar entrance theme song, the iconic Iron Man by Black Sabbath. What an inspiring young woman she is. With the Japanese flag draped over her shoulders, Mei walks down the ramp to a thunderous roar of cheers.

I love her warrior spirit, her bushido. Then, it is Angela Lee’s turn to make her walk. She comes out to a more upbeat song Unstoppable by Sia, her signature entrance tune. And with Singapore gold medalist swimmer Joseph Schooling waving the nation’s flag behind her no less.

Lee in action in the ring

Angela is incredibly emotional after what she has gone through with her recent car accident and all, but she puts on a tremendous performance. I am extremely proud of both women from beginning to end.

12:00am: We officially overrun on timing, but the five-round main event is done and the judges score in favour of Angela Lee. I proceed backstage to then grab two-division One World Champion Martin Nguyen, and also the main event challenger Mei Yamaguchi as my team ushers media into the cage for an impromptu scrum. Media gather around our athletes and questions fly at them from all around.

1:00am: The media interviews finally conclude and the journalists are sent back to the hotel. Me and my team bid farewell to the venue, thanking each other for the great teamwork and effort.

We are finally headed back to the hotel as well. When I get home, I still have a lot of work to do, but it is time to get some rest. A brand new day begins in a few hours.

2:30am: My watch now shows me it is very late, so I set my alarm to ring in four hours. I have to get in as much quality sleep as possible, because I know that in the morning when I wake up, there will still be work to do.

There always is. I close my eyes and thank god for another amazing day. Within seconds, I am asleep, waiting for my alarm to wake me once again.

Loren Mack is vice-president of public relations and communications at One Championship

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