Isn’t POC 2018 shake-up the Big One?
Now respected and celebrated as a full-fledged international star, boxer Donnie Nietes is training his tested fists on fellow standouts in the world super flyweight division.
That’s great and very brave of the humble 36-year-old legend, a former janitor from the famed ALA Stable in Cebu.
Come to think of it, shouldn’t Nietes also be hailed for stamping a triumphant start for Philippine sports in 2019?
There are outstanding performers, there are great achievers, like our gold medalists headed by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the last Asian Games in Indonesia.
These great gold winners are the real thing. They made terrible sacrifices, gave their all and put up a big fight in their respective disciplines for flag and country.
But away from the sporting battlefields, there was this great upheaval that shook the foundations of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
It struck like a major earthquake.
In a court-ordered election of the POC, boxing chief Ricky Vargas unseated Jose “Peping” Cojuangco as POC president.
The date was Feb. 23, 2018; the place, Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
With a score of 24-15, Vargas ended Cojuangco’s 13-year reign as POC head.
The fight was a lot tighter, shaky and suspenseful than the final count indicated.
The Pasig Regional Trial Court had nullified an earlier exercise orchestrated by Cojuangco that disqualified Vargas and put him unopposed in the 2016 POC poll.
The court ordered a new vote, but Cojuangco refused to budge, thereby flashing an ambiguous memorandum from the International Olympic Committee.
Everything had looked lost, but Vargas plodded quietly and waged a grim and arduous struggle until the POC general assembly relented and agreed to honor the court.
There was bitter infighting, shifting of ranks, with Cojuangco taking an early lead during the poll count.
If in horse racing, Vargas managed a dramatic pull-away in the final turn.
Witnesses said Cojuangco, in tears, refused to shake hands after the poll exercise was completed.
He had treated the POC presidency like a family heirloom.
After a day, there came a report that Cojuangco finally relented and recognized Vargas as new POC chief.
Vargas, in a heartwarming gesture, offered Cojuangco to be a member of the powerful POC Board.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.