Mendoza: Ah, to reminisce the good, ol’ days with Tony-A A +A
Monday, June 23, 2014
BEFORE the main Pinoy Pride 26 fights that ended in heart-warming knockout victories for the Pagara brothers Jason and Albert and AJ Banal on Saturday in Cebu City’s Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Donnie “Ahas” Nietes was asked to climb up the ring by boxing officials led by Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions and Marco Baldueza of ABS-CBN Sports.
Nietes, the pride and joy of Murcia, Negros Occidental, was honored as one of the country’s longest reigning world boxing champions at seven-plus years. In his next fight, Nietes will have surpassed Gabriel “Flash” Elorde’s record reign of seven years, three months and 10 days. Elorde, the former shoeshine boy from Bogo, Cebu, was world junior lightweight champion from 1960 to 1967. Before Elorde died in March 1985, I had that memorable moment of visiting him while he was in hospital confinement.
“I’m glad that you do not smoke,” Elorde said to me then. “My counsel to you, Al, is do not smoke for the rest of your life.”
I never smoked. I only drink.
“Very good,” Elorde said. “Drinking rarely kills. Smoking kills, if not most of the time, always.”
Very few knew that Elorde was a heavy smoker even while he was at the peak of his career; he would always steal a puff in-between sparring rounds. Barely a week after my visit, Elorde died of lung cancer.
While Nietes was being feted, I didn’t see Tony Aldeguer up there and Tony had a ready answer for that: “I have left almost everything about ALA Promotions to the care of Michael. I am retired—happily.”
The night before, Tony and I had dinner at his beautiful beach house in nearby Danao and if that wasn’t a feast fit for kings (angus beef, paella, lechon, seafood, pasta, green salads, fruits in season, etc.), I don’t know what is.
“It’s been 21 years since we last saw each other,” Tony said. “This will be a historic night for us.”
The last time we had dinner was in Tony’s mountaintop house overlooking Cebu.
“I remember you were delicately nursing your brandy glass, stroking it first before every sip, after our dinner,” Tony said. “Ah, those were the days.”
Tony is 71 now, still fit as a fiddle because he jogs and eats vegetables, fruits and fish more than red meat.
Tony, who put up ALA Promotions in 1985, doesn’t have a paunch now and the only change in him is, his well-trimmed moustache is gone.
Did I hear him say, “It has outlived its usefulness?”
Be well, Tony. Be the happy chap that I know -- forever.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 24, 2014.