THEY threw a party for world miminumweight boxing champion Merlito Sabillo over the weekend.
Yesterday, a motorcade was scheduled in the streets of Bacolod for both Sabillo and the big-punching Arthur Villanueva, the WBO Asia-Pacific super flyweight champion who, like Sabillo, won by knockout in the recent “Pinoy Pride” promotion at the elegant Solaire Resort and Casino.
There should be more honors and celebrations lined up for these victorious Filipino boxers.
Anyway, before they could start to party, Filipino boxing superhero Manny Pacquiao lashed out at a promoter in Sydney, Australia, who was reported to have exploited and brutally maltreated a bunch of promising Filipino prizefighters, led by Czar Amonsot, formerly of the ALA Boxing Stable in Cebu.
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It was not the first such case involving Filipino boxers in Australia.
What was truly alarming, though, was that, over a week after Pacquiao offered to go after the boxing crooks, there was nothing clear on whether national authorities, led by the Games and Amusements Board, had bothered to at least verify the sickening allegations.
It was not clear if Pacquiao himself would really go out of his way to attend to the plight of his poor fellow prizefighters.
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Maybe the GAB and other concerned agencies were just waiting to sweep the case under the rug?
Not too fast, please.
On Sunday, sports columnist Joaquin Henson went out of his way, traveled to Sydney, and came out with a detailed report on the atrocities committed against the Filipino fighters.
“A fighter who didn’t survive promoter Dido Bohol’s treatment was Roberto Ruiz,” Henson reported from Sydney. Ruiz lost nine of his 12 bouts in Australia from 1997 to 1999. His former girlfriend Michelle said he gradually lost his eyesight and, with Bohol holding his passport, became an illegal resident. Going blind and facing deportation, Ruiz committed suicide in Sydney.”
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Henson went on to report that “sports fans are crying out for justice after the Australian Broadcasting Corp. recently exposed the alleged shenanigans of promoter Bohol in exploiting Filipino fighters whom he imports to use as cannon fodder in one-sided carnages and as unpaid houseboys.”
Henson said Amonsot, 27, lashed at Bohol. The reigning Australian lightwelterweight champion, Amonsot was brought to Sydney in 2010.
“He lived in Bohol’s home and slept with four others in bunk beds stacked on a concrete slab inside an unheated garage,” Henson said. “He cleaned the house and washed dishes when not training.”
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Jay Tunacao said he lived under subhuman conditions, was fed chicken bones, with little sauce over cold rice. Cried the poor fighter: “Early in the mornings, I always got nosebleeds because it was too cold.”
All the exploited fighters get from their purses were loose change, as they regularly get reminded they still have to pay for their air fare.
There’s not a more sickening mismatch victimizing Filipino boxers.