With four boxers qualified for Tokyo Olympics, gold may well be within reach for the most bemedaled sport in the Philippines.
Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam recently qualified for the quadriannual meet by virtue of being top seeds in their respective weight classes.
They join Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, both of whom qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics prior to the event’s postponement into 2021.
While it has been decades since Onyok Velasco won the last olympic boxing medal for the Philippines when he earned silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, this single sport is where the Philippines earned five, or half, of its 10 total Olympic medals.
This should not be a surprise however as boxing is likely the second most popular sport in the Philippines, second only to basketball.
According to Association of Boxing Alliances Secretary General (ABAP) Ed Picson, there are numerous reasons as to why the “sweet science” is popular amongst Filipinos.
“Since a young age, young boys engage in sometimes playful and sometimes very aggressive forms of boxing. It’s a rite of passage”, Picson said.
The ease of organizing boxing during fiestas also enables the Philippines to consistently find male and female talent, add on the fact that members of the marginalized sector see boxing as a way out of poverty and you create the perfect environment to constantly produce world class fighters.
The four boxers who qualified for the Olympics are no exemption as they fought hard almost all their lives to get to where they are now. All came from humble beginnings to become gold medalists in their respective weight classes.
Recruitment and enlistment of talent to represent the Philippines falls on ABAP, the National Sports Association (NSA) of boxing in the Philippines. Casting a wide net on the archipelagic Philippines, ABAP seeks talent wherever it may be found. As said earlier some if not most fighters start from humble beginnings in small towns unable to travel to metropolitan areas such as Davao, Cebu, or Metro Manila.
Once recruited into the national team, the boxers are given the best opportunity to succeed.
“We see to it that they get the best coaching, including a foreign consultant as our training director as well as different consultants. ABAP is also in charge of international exposure for training and tournament participation”, Picson said.
The boxers and their training partners are currently in Thailand and hopefully, Picson says, ABAP would be able to send them to the first boxing tournament in Asia that will be held in India in the last week of May.
Rest assured olympians Marcial, Petecio, Magno, and Paalam are sure to be well prepared and well trained for the Tokyo 2020.
On whether boxing will garner the first Olympic gold, Picson did not want to get ahead of the boxers but guarantees that they are in the best position to succeed.
“It is not my place to guess or foretell what’s going to happen but we are certainly determined to give our boxers opportunities to get the best out of their talent”, he said.
“We are bringing four boxers to the Olympics and we are giving them the kind of preparation that ABAP feels they need in order to accomplish their mission and fulfill their dreams”, he added.
ABAP has done more than its fair share for the boxers in order for them to bring home glory not only for themselves but for the Philippines. Filipinos are sure to be tuned in to see the results and hope our practitioners of the sweet science punch their way to a Gold medal.