Calls to abolish amateur boxing get mixed reactions

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Friday, December 20, 2013


LOCAL sports officials and personalities shared varied reactions on calls to abolish amateur boxing on the heels of the untimely death of a 16-year-old after a boxing match in a Department of Education (DepEd)-supervised regional meet in Central Luzon recently.

High School student Jonas Joshua Garcia first fell into a coma then breathed his last after a few days at the hospital.

Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap) Mindanao area deputy director Generose Tecson, in text messages on Friday, said that what happened to Central Luzon was an isolated case.

"In any sport, things like these happen like athletes dying from heart attack while playing soccer or tennis or even while running and yet there were no calls to ban these sports. Those who are reacting to stop amateur boxing are not boxing enthusiasts," Tecson said.

She added, "Maybe, it should be ensured that the officials manning the bouts are really qualified, or that the doctors assigned are knowledgeable about sports medicine and even the physical check-up of the boxers are really conducted well and not perfunctory. Tournaments for amateur boxing are far and few in between already, let it remain in the school meets in order for boxers to be able to hone their talents."

Tecson, chief-of-staff of Congressman Anton Lagdameo and team manager of Barangay Una Boxing Team of Davao del Norte, also urged those concerned to be open-minded in viewing the incident and "to be fair to the sport that has brought and will continue to bring honor to the country."

International amateur boxing referee judge Ramon "Dodong" Revamonte, said: "I think that's unfair because of what happened in Region 3 Deped meet. The hope for an Olympic gold medal is only in boxing event."

Private Schools Athletic Association (Prisaa) 11 executive director Joaquin "Boy" Sarabia, in Thursday's Davao Sportswriters Association (DSA) Forum at Calle Cinco Restobar, said boxing should never be abolished in Philippine sports.

“We have famous Filipino boxers, internationally recognized because of their skills such as boxing superstar and Sarangani Cong. Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao,” Sarabia said.

He said the untimely demise of Garcia involved lots of factors including his and his trainers' lack of traning, saying, "Boxing is a difficult sport and even a year of training is not enough. A lot of things have to be considered first before fighting in the boxing ring. Most importantly, trainers should be experts in boxing,” he said.

Sarabia said that the lack of preparation on the part of Garcia and his boxing coach made a big impact on his death. He said that most regions in the country only pin-point someone who knows boxing to coach regardless of his or her lack of expertise.

“Death can happen to anyone. Even professionals may die in any sport,” Sarabia added.

He, however, said Prisaa 11 will still send boxers in the National Collegiate Games.

Davao del Sur native Nesthy Alcayde Petecio, who recently clinched a silver medal in the 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myamar, said the sport should not be scrapped in sports meets just because of what happened to Garcia.

China Open 2013 champion Petecio said, "Basin nasaktohan lang ang bata nga dunay sakit unya nagdula sya ug boxing ngadto siguro naglala iyang kahimtang. Para sa akoa, dili nila kailangan i-scrap kay dili man sala sa mga nagapalakad sa boxing ang nahitabo sa bata. Ang bata man gusto magdula siguro kahit kabalo sya nga naa na syay naramdaman (The poor kid may just be sick at that time when he fought. I don't think boxing should be banned because it's not the fault of those who organized the sports meet. The athlete may be just wanted to fight even if he already feels ill)."

Petecio said athletes are like that, even if they are sick, they would still force themselves to compete because they love what they are doing.

"Sa isa ka atleta basta love niya iyang sports nga giapilan wala jud makapugong sa iya basin unsa pa mahitabo niya. Kami man ganing mga babae dili dapat angay sa amo ang boxing kay sports na sya para sa mga lalaki pero like man namo ug enjoy sad mi. Bisan delikado ang boxing, nagstay lang gihapon mi kay love man namo (Nobody can stop an athlete to compete if he or she loves the sport no matter what happens. Women like us should not play boxing because it's a sport for males but we like it and enjoy it even if it's dangerous for us)," Petecio said.

Davao City's Sports Development Division of the City Mayor's Office (SDD-CMO) officer-in-charge William "Butch" Ramirez, meanwhile, said he is in favor of abolishing boxing as the purpose of the sport is to hurt, box and punish and earn points to win the game.

"But if scientific and medical requirement can be provided then we will maintain the sport. In our society where implementation of rules and systems are inadequate then boxing must be abolished," Ramirez said. (With report from Merle Dawn S. Comidoy)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 21, 2013.

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