Boxers skip Cuba for California
The Philippine Sports Commission’s training center at Teachers’ Camp in Baguio City is proving to be a pugilistic paradise for our national boxers seeking berths to this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Inevitably, though, home cooking at the pine-clad facility has to give way to foreign fare for the fighters of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap).
As I write this, the Abap boxers—eight men and three women—are awaiting the green light of the United States embassy in Manila to travel to California.
A training camp from Feb. 15 to 29 awaits them at Golden Gate University in San Francisco upon the invite of Joaquin Gonzalez III, chair of the department of public administration at Edward S. Ageno School of Business.
In a letter requesting the embassy for visas for the boxers, officials and coaches, the Filipino-American Gonzalez said the Bay Area’s robust Fil-Am community awaits the national team as it makes its final push to punch tickets to Brazil.
For a change, the training camp will be bankrolled mainly by the PSC with support from Abap and the MVP group of companies.
The boxers, still our brightest hopes for an Olympic medal, including the first gold, are currently in joint training until Feb. 13 with the Australian national team at the PSC center in the Pines City.
The Aussies—nine men and two women—are led by coaches Kevin Smith and Don Abnett. Smith, a British national, was Abap consultant for two years.
Ed Picson, Abap executive director, said the local side has gained knowledge from the Aussies via the open exchange of training tips, as well as conditioning tactics and techniques.
“Each side alternates in planning and leading the daily training programs,” said Picson.
He also said that a projected training camp in Cuba, winner of 15 boxing medals at the 2012 London Games, will have to wait until after our boxers have qualified for Rio de Janeiro through several tournaments scheduled through June.
The idea of the training camp in California and possibly some gyms in Las Vegas is meant to shield the fighters from scouts.
Every foreign team will opt for training camp at the United States Olympic facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado—a magnet for scouts.
“We chose not to go there for the obvious reasons,” said Picson.
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“NAGSOSONA si kalawit (Death stalks),” Cipriano S. Roxas said when former scribe turned Regional Trial Court Judge Leo Saddul Reyes died in 2012.
As a tough news desk chief of the Philippines News Agency in the mid-1970s, Roxas helped turn Leo from a campus sports editor to a topnotch sportswriter. Zip’s candid comment was his way of reminding Leo’s friends about their own mortality.
Roxas himself left us last week with his sharp wit and his body of journalistic work, including a stint as editor of several broadsheets. He was 76 when he passed on Jan. 29.
His family announced there will be a gathering of his friends in the coming days.
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Our condolences also go to the family of Abap secretary general Patrick Gregorio on the death of his dad, Martin, a former professor at the University of the Philippines. Professor Gregorio was 74.
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