ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Mico Gadot heaves a huge rock with his tiny, bare hands under the watchful eyes of a boxing trainer inside a small yard that serves as a training camp in Aluba, Barangay Macasandig in this city.
Gadot and 40 other youngsters, ages 11 to 19 years old, are deep in training every day to get ready for “Batang Pinoy” boxing events and hopefully become professional boxers when they reach of age.
Like all young boxers, Gadot wish to become the next Manny Pacquiao and bring the money home to his parents who sell vegetables at Puerto market in Barangay Bugo, this city.
“I want to become like Manny Pacquiao and win all my fights,” Gadot said.
Despite the scorching summer heat, Gadot and the young boxers finish the day doing several rigid exercise regimen designed for them by their boxing trainers.
What they lack in exercise equipment, the trainers and the boxers improvise using what they can salvage from the construction materials that are plenty around the camp.
The trainers use heavy rocks and heavy metal bars for weight training, weightlifting and powerlifting.
Under these rudimentary conditions, Gadot and the others train hard so they will be ready to compete in the 12-19 categories of the Batang Pinoy national boxing tournaments.
Boxing trainers found them when they were looking for potential recruits among the young boxers who fight at the “Boxing in the Park” held every Sunday afternoon at the Amphitheater in Divisoria here.
Once they are selected, they join in the boxing team that the local government of Cagayan de Oro and Mayor Oscar Moreno support.
“It is good to teach boxing rudiments to the young. They are fast learners if interested, you will see how they develop to become good boxers,” Cagayan de Oro boxing team head coach Elmer Pamisa said.
Pointing at Gadot and other young boxers, Pamisa said these young boys would greatly improve their skills in just a few months of training.
“Their boxing stance will no longer be like that two months from now. Their skills will improve. Two months from now they will be ready for the Batang Pinoy boxing tournaments,” Pamisa said.
Pamisa said they recruit boxers who were promising during their fights at the Boxing in the Park and other amateur boxing bouts in northern Mindanao.
He said once they are chosen, the recruits will have to stay in the boxing camp, and could only get out when they go to school.
In the camp, Pamisa said young boys and girls who are recruits will learn basic boxing techniques and exercises to improve their endurance, and will have to fight sparring sessions.
Pamisa said presently the young boxers are preparing for the Batang Pinoy tournaments scheduled this coming June.
He said most of their recruits come from poor families in the city and nearby province of Misamis Oriental.
“Boxing is always a sports for the poor. No rich man’s son wants his face and body to be battered,” Pamisa said.