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Boxing’s rightful place

BOXING is the one sport that has brought our country international honors and earned for us the respect our nation deserves.

All this has been achieved through the indomitable courage of our young fighters, most of whom have emerged from the ranks of the poorest of the poor and with the help of private individuals.

Never has there been an instance of government support for our fighters except in the perfunctory gestures of congressional recognition and presidential praises and what might be considered token support for the National Sports Association or ABAP. 

Indeed, quite regrettably, the Games and Amusements Board, which is the agency under the Office of the President, has done  more to harm the sport than to help it.

The undeniable fact is that through the years, the chairmen of the GAB have been political appointees, in a blatant display of politics in sports, which has been an absolute bane.

We recall that during the glory days of the late, great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and a host of other world champions, the GAB was headed by Justiniano Montano Jr., the son of the powerful congressional leader Justiniano Montano Jr.

The late Jun Montano was probably the best GAB chairman we can remember since making his beloved land our home and immersing ourselves in the sport of boxing.

The advantage Montano enjoyed over the people who followed him was that he had the eminent lawyer and sportsman Rudy Salud as his secretary general, who helped guarantee that our boxers, managers and promoters were protected, provided they did the right thing and that the sport moved forward with a purpose.

It was an era when integrity was non-negotiable unlike today when just about everything is negotiable.

On Sunday, Manila Time, Milan Melindo of the famed ALA Gym of respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer gets a second chance at a world title when he faces Mexico’s IBF light flyweight champion Javier Mendoza in Mendoza’s hometown.

Fight fans are well aware of how difficult it is to win in Mexico, especially if the fight is close and goes to the scorecards of the judges.

We would think that when a Filipino is fighting for a world title, at least a top official of the GAB, chairman Ramon Guanzon or Commissioners Fritz Gaston or Aquilo Tamano should be present to help protect the interests of our boxer.

Regrettably it won’t be the case.

Yet, these three gentlemen attended the recent IBF Convention in Montreal, Canada at taxpayers’ expense  in what was clearly a junket.

If there was a need for GAB representation -- and perhaps there was -- then one Commissioner would have sufficed. Besides, chairman Guanzon sits on the board of the World Boxing Council and we feel it was unethical for him to attend the IBF Convention. Surely, there is a conflict somewhere.

There was the recent issue of two Filipino boxers fighting for the vacant WBC International super bantamweight  title with Chinese promoter Liu Gang agreeing to accommodate the fight on his card in Kunming, China after matchmaker Brico Santig’s plan to stage the fight in the Phillippines fell through.

Santig claimed that the two boxers, Saulog and Laurel agreed to a measly purse just so the fight could happen. Question is, isn’t the GAB mandated to sign off on fight contracts? How could the GAB approve such scandalous purses of less  than $500 which WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman revealed was the purse for a four-round bout in Mexico. And to think this was a WBC International title fight.

We figure it is next to impossible to expect President Aquino to revamp the GAB and place dedicated individuals with a love for boxing and with unsullied integrity at the helm.

 We  would probably have to wage a concerted campaign with the boxing community and the public to make sure that the next president will shun the cancer of political appointees to the GAB and help ensure that the sport which has brought  so much honor and glory is elevated to its rightful place from the abysmal depths to which it has sunk.

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