MANNY Pacquiao has all the reasons to feel deeply hurt and alarmed at the fate of exported Filipino boxers who ended up brutally exploited, with one of them committing suicide after suffering unbearable inhuman treatment from his recruiter in Australia.
Pacquiao could’ve gone the tragic way of these luckless Filipino fighters.
At least, in Pacquiao’s case, he decided to go on his own. He offered to travel to the United States to seek his fortune the year after he lost his world flyweight title in Thailand in 1999.
Pacquiao was getting restless and was actually thinking of returning home after nearly a year in the US (according to former manager Rod Nazario) when he was picked to challenge the IBF 122-lb crown of African Lehlo Ledwabah.
A last-minute substitute, Pacquiao mauled, bloodied and stopped Ledwabah in Las Vegas in June 2001, signaling his marvelous rise to superstardom.
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Over a week ago, Pacquiao raised his hackles upon learning about the sickening fate of a group of Filipino fighters who were made to work as slaves and fight at the same time in Australia.
These fighters, led by Czar Amonsot, former standout at the ALA Boxing Stable in Cebu, had to live under subhuman conditions.
They were fed bones, cold rice, and got nothing for working as servants when not in training.
They were paid for their bouts, but all they would get were loose change.
Reason: Their recruiter and promoter claimed they had yet to pay for their air fares.
Himself shaken by the tragedy, Star columnist Joaquin Henson travelled to Sydney last week. He came back and confirmed the reported suicide of one of the luckless boxers.
Reported Henson: “A fighter who failed to survive promoter Dido Bohol’s maltreatment was Roberto Ruiz. He fought in 12 bouts and lost nine times in 1997-99. He gradually lost his eyesight. With Bohol keeping his passport, Ruiz faced deportation before he became totally blind. He next committed suicide in Sydney.”
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Yesterday, this reporter sought out Henson.
Have you heard or seen any effort or presence on the part of the PH government to at least check on the veracity of the reports initially posted on philboxing.com here?
“None that I know, neither heard nor seen any sign of official concern from the Philippine government while in Sydney,” Henson explained.
Shouldn’t the Games and Amusements Board at least communicated with its counterpart in Australia in order to get first-hand facts?
“That’s the proper thing to do, but there has been nothing of the sort, whatsoever,” Henson said.
What do you think is the matter?
“I really don’t know,” Henson said. “In fact, the GAB could’ve at least interviewed those boxers who have been able to return from the Sydney slave house.”
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It’s hard to determine how far and long Pacquiao could pursue his fight for these aggrieved, exploited Filipino boxers.
Maybe he’s just too busy attending to the myriad problems of the people in his congressional enclave.
Of course, Pacquiao would not tarry a minute given the authority to carry the fight for the poor boxers.
While the Ilongo buddy President Aquino has picked to head the GAB is still busy posing for victory photos and partying for his protege, world minimumweight boxing champion Merlito Sabillo, maybe they should lend Pacquiao power and authority to go after the shameless crooks who have victimized poor Filipino boxers in Australia.
Or is the GAB waiting for another suicide in Sydney before acting?