Manila, Philippines, April 16, 2021: With four boxers qualified for Tokyo 2020, gold may well be within reach for the most successful Olympic sport in the Philippines, reports the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam recently qualified for Tokyo 2020 by virtue of being top seeds in their respective weight classes.
They join Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, both of whom qualified for Tokyo 2020 at the Asia/Oceania qualifier in Amman, Jordan, in March 2020.
While it has been decades since Onyok Velasco won the last Olympic boxing medal for the Philippines when he earned silver at Atlanta 1996, this single sport is where the Philippines earned five, or half, of its 10 total Olympic medals.
This should not be a surprise, however, as boxing is likely the second most popular sport in the Philippines, second only to basketball.
According to Ed Picson, Secretary General of the national governing body, the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines, there are numerous reasons as to why the “sweet science” is popular amongst Filipinos.
“Since a young age, young boys engage in sometimes playful and sometimes very aggressive forms of boxing. It’s a rite of passage,” Picson said.
Casting a wide net over the vast archipelago, the governing body seeks talent wherever it may be found. Some if not most fighters start from humble beginnings in small towns unable to travel to metropolitan areas such as Davao, Cebu or Metro Manila.
Once recruited into the national team, the boxers are given the best opportunity to succeed in terms of training and international competition.
The boxers and their training partners are currently in Thailand and planning to attend a pre-Tokyo boxing tournament in India in late May.
“We are bringing four boxers to the Olympics and we are giving them the kind of preparation that the ABAP feels they need in order to accomplish their mission and fulfill their dreams,” he added.