Think of the future, Villacampo tells boxers

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


EVEN before modern Filipino world champions Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes laced their boots and gloves, there was Bernabe Villacampo, who was one of the few world champions of the Philippines in the older days.

These days, his name no longer rings a bell to most of the Filipino boxing fans despite his contribution to the sport.

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Last Saturday, the 67-year-old native of Toledo City was back in the limelight, like his days inside the ring, as he was given recognition for his contribution to the Philippines, especially Cebu City, by the Magellan's Landing Bar and Restaurant in Lapu-Lapu City.

“I'm very happy that even in this age some still remember me,” said the one-time World Boxing Association flyweight champion.

Villacampo was awarded with a painting of his younger self wearing the Philippine flyweight title, which he won in the twilight of his career.

Villacampo was born on June 11, 1943. He grew up in his native Toledo City with his mother but at the age of 15 he went and lived with his godmother in Talisay City.

Before he became a pro fighter, he used to sell ice drops, ampaw and newspapers. But
because selling for a living wasn't enough, he turned to boxing and started as an amateur at 19. He won medals for his school, University of the Visayas, in Philippine tournaments and became a pro at 20 in 1963.

Villacampo had an up and down career, winning 15 of his first 25 fights, losing eight and drawing twice.

After 25 fights, he challenged for the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation flyweight title but drew with champion Tsuyoshi Nakamura in 1968.

In the same year, he had his biggest break—a world title fight against World Boxing Council flyweight champion Chartchai Chionoi in Bangkok, Thailand. However, he lost to Chionoi on the scorecards despite dropping the Thai thrice in the bout.

Villacampo then challenged for a world title a year later and won the WBA crown in Osaka, Japan with a 15-round unanimous decision over defending champion Hiroyuki Ebihara.

“I thought I lost because the announcer was speaking in Japanese. I just knew I won when my opponent went to me and raised my hand,” Villacampo said.

Villacampo said that he had a unique style because he never stopped punching his opponents from beginning to end.

“I'm not good at punching. I just have the endurance,” said Villacampo, who is still as fit as a horse.

Villacampo still jogs uphill in Talisay City every day to keep himself fit. He runs at least eight kilometers everyday.

Although, Villacampo is long retired from the sport he didn't put his hard work inside the ring to waste, as he purchased a piece of land with his purse in his world title fight and sent his three children to school. All three hold college degrees.

“I always thought about tomorrow and not just today. Boxing isn't permanent, there will be a time that you will be washed up.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2010.

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