Youth is never really wasted
PUERTO PRINCESA— There’s nothing like a sports tournament to remind us that playwright George Bernard Shaw was not kidding that youth could be wasted on the young.
And yet, why not? It is the best time to dream, make good choices, heed the advice of teachers and stay away from bad habits.
This was evident at the recent 2017 Asian Junior Boxing Championships in this busy city, a tourism magnet with so much to offer the adventurous traveler. Fighters, aged 15 to 16 years old and from 18 countries, came to start or continue the journey to possible Olympic success and beyond.
Many probably started very young, notably the rugged yet polished Kazakhstan fighters. The youthful boxers won six of the 13 gold medals and showed the results of their lessons from a boxing academy at home.
Across all weight categories, the Kazakhs scored punches in the midsection as well as the head, rarely throwing wild or errant shots.
There were also recent boxing converts like Filipino gold medalist Kenneth Dela Peña, a smiling 16-year-old prodigy from boxing breeding ground General Santos City. Just before he entered the ring against his opponent from Kazakhstan, Dela Peña confirmed that he was hardly a year into the sport but has since worked on his Olympic dream.
Boxing association secretary general Ed Picson, who oversaw preparations and staging of the tournament, explained that the task ahead is to continue nurturing Dela Peña and 15-year-old John Vincent Pangga, another Filipino who won gold.
“You can’t keep them in the juniors forever because they will get older,” Picson said. “The sooner they can be honed for future tournaments, the better because we will have an ample supply of boxing talent.”
The young generation of boxers in the tournament probably amused their elders as they were mostly hooked on their mobile phones and gadgets in between fights. But make no mistake about it: These fighters are more than willing to sacrifice for their dreams to shine for their countries.
For example, international boxers (the term “amateur” has been dropped from usage when talking about non-professional boxing) have to maintain their weight for at least a week to remain qualified to fight. For young boys still growing up, that’s a major sacrifice.
Youth need not be wasted as long as it is a time well spent and sports can definitely help along the way.
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