ROEL Velasco, Edito Villamor and Luisito Espinosa were the reasons I became a boxing fan.
The first live boxing match I saw was the semifinal loss of Roel to a Cuban in the Barcelona Olympics, while the first Pinoy pro boxer I followed in the papers was Edito. I remember looking forward to my graduation from high school because it was the day news of his title fight against Ricardo Lopez would come out in the national papers.
I had my first big break as a sportswriter when Luisito Espinosa fought Carlos Rios in South Cotabato, an incident that would plague Espinosa, for life. It was also the time that my career as a sportswriter got rewritten.
Of the three fighters, it is Luisito Espinosa I am interested in, because of the circumstances that happened after his fight in South Cotabato.
Roel Velasco, the last time I heard, now trains amateur boxers of the RP team. Edito I meet regularly in ALA functions. And he keeps on calling me “sir,” even if I keep on telling him to call me by my first name. I remember I was so excited to see Z Gorres fight for the first time because it would be my first time to see Edito, too.
And it’s true. Even if you’re 25 or older, whenever you meet your idol for the first time, that kid in you always comes out.
I never got to meet Luisito “Lindol” Espinosa and it’s my loss.
His story is sad. One time, I read in the papers that Luisito, who personified the Sweet Science on the ring, was reduced to washing dishes in the US, and was becoming fodder for rising stars who wanted an ex-champion on their record.
Luisito, the former two-time champ, finished his career at 47-13. Four of his losses, all by knockouts, came in his last six fights, the time when he was only fighting for money while he was fighting to get his money.
You see, for the past 13 years, Lindol has been trying to get the $130,000 due him when he fought Carlos Rios in South Cotabato in 1997.
He was never paid.
I know I could have written the story back then. I had the advantage over the rest. I was from South Cotabato and was in contact with the office of Gov. Hilarido de Pedro, the promoter of that fight, regularly.
But I never had the chance to write it. I got fired from my job. I was a young writer then, young enough to do stupid things and stupid enough to trust a fellow writer who found the perfect opportunity to push forward his agenda.
However, that’s another story. (That writer, and I have forgiven him, is long gone and I still look up to my former boss and always try to teach the things he taught me.)
In 2004, I remember reading a story on Espinosa. He was pleading with Gloria. He wanted her help to get was rightfully his—that $130,000.
Lindol gambled and lost that night in South Cotabato. He wanted to back out because problems in the promotion meant his purse wasn’t a sure thing. But he was persuaded to fight.
Why? The men behind that fight pushed the right button, that same button that sometimes pushes boxers to find their inner strength—patriotism.
And it’s what killed Luisito’s career.
Luisito’s story deserves to be told. And I’m glad that it will be.
A friend of mine, Mark Lorenzana, my former colleague at Today’s Carolinian who maintains the blog www.pinoyfightscribe.com, set for himself a lofty target of writing the Luisito Espinosa story.
Mark, who’s been in constant contact with Lindol, got Espinosa’s OK for the book but has doubts because he’s just a lowly blogger, not a sportswriter.
But I think it’s apt. If a sportswriter is to write a book on Lindol, half of it would be a glossary of sponsors and there would be five “introducing the author” parts, written by folks who think they are hotshots in sports because sportswriters feed their ego.
Luisito Espinosa’s story deserves to be told, and no one deserves to write it more than a boxing fan.
For more on Mark Lorenzana’s works, check: www.pinoyfightscribe.com