For the record, there had been repeated calls for an expanded talent discovery thrust—the deeper the better—even before the recent bid by the national boxing team to land another slot in this year’s London Olympics.
No, it was not a case of the new leadership in the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines not searching hard enough for future Olympians
Explained Ed Picson, Abap executive director, “We beg to dispute the observation that there have been no organized tournaments under our watch.”
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He continued: “Since 2009, we’ve regularly held regional and national tournaments all over the archipelago, to wit: Bacolod City; Ormoc City; Panabo, Davao del Norte; Tayabas, Quezon; Puerto Princesa City; Misamis Oriental (twice); Mandawe City; Cebu; Quezon City; Mandaluyong City (twice); and Tagbilaran, Bohol. That’s 12 major tournaments in 3 years. Over a thousand aspiring boxers showcased their talents in these tournaments.”
The previous Abap leadership definitely paled in comparison.
But, as could only be expected, the fall of Charly Suarez, rock-hard PH hope in the Asian Olympic qualifier in Kazakhstan, sent experts and fans asking: Where did they go wrong again?
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It definitely was not due to the dearth of materials because, as noted by international matchmaker Jun Sarreal, why does the country continue to produce a slew professional world boxing champions whereas our amateurs continue to be stuck in mediocrity?
“I stayed in Bangkok for many years where many amateur fighters came from Thai boxing, with majority getting started as young as nine or ten years old, and they sparred with anybody on hand,” Sarreal said.
Suggested Joseph Dumuk, former national contingent statistician and keeper of records: “They should not cry, but have an honest-to-goodness evaluation where and why they fell short. With talents from a deep search, a longer period might be needed to prepare Olympic qualifiers, much more Olympic medalists. They cannot afford to cut corners.”
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Meanwhile, the national amateur boxing body, through Picson, said it doesn’t claim a monopoly on good intentions, ideas or motivations:
“Anyone who wishes to give constructive criticisms and opinions is welcome.”
By the way, in his last communication with the Inquirer, boxing pillar Manny Piñol said he had talked to sportsman Tonyboy Floirendo, who voiced his displeasure over the staleness of competition in national amateur tournaments.
“Wala na raw challenge, they have run out of competition,” Pinol quoted Floirendo, godfather of the highly successful Panabo boxing development program in Davao del Norte, as saying.
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All told, the Abap had indeed covered very wide ground in its bid to smoke out future Olympians.
But with that plaint from former Congressman Floirendo, now a full-time sportsman, our amateur boxing leaders have no choice but dig deeper, short of going subterranean, in their hunt for future Olympians.
Floirendo did not have to say it.
Our boxers could have a shot at the Olympic medal again once they are finally forged in fire, molded in the noble, exacting Olympic ideals.
There should be no in-between.