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Boxing puts premium on grassroots development

Harry Tañamor

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s top boxing officials yesterday stressed the need to put up a sound grassroots program to further boost the development of the sport even as they veered away from the usual practice of hiring a Cuban coach by tapping an American mentor for the training of the national team.

“We have hired an American coach who will be going to Baguio to train our boxers,” said the ABAP (Amateur Boxing Association of the Phils.) president Ricky Vargas during yesterday’s Scoop sa Kamayan session at Padre Faura.

Also gracing the forum were ABAP president Manny Pangilinan, also the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) chairman, and SBP sec-gen Pato Gregorio, also the man at the helm of Smart Sports.

Vargas said they are breaking new ground by hiring an American coach instead of Cuban coaches, who had guided a number of RP boxers to top finishes abroad.

“We are also hiring our boxers like Harry Tañamor, who has recently retired, as trainers to provide them livelihood,” added Vargas.

He also vowed to try their best to execute their plans and programs to the best of their abilities with focus on the 2012 Olympics in London where the country will again try to end its gold medal drought.

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Boxing has been the country’s top source of medals in international competitions, falling short of the gold medal feat when Mansueto Velasco lost to Bulgarian Daniel Bojilov in the lightfly finals in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“The program is important because we started it as early as now for the 2012 Olympics. Hopefully we can finally bag our first gold medal in London,” said Vargas.

He cited the entry of major sponsor in PLDT and the commitment made by the Philippine Sports Commission, through chair Harry Angping, to support ABAP’s program. Vargas said the PSC chief was impressed with the ABAP’s draft and promised to throw its all support to the boxing association.

Vargas also revealed the sponsors have committed P4 million for 40 boxers, P1.5 million for coaches and P2 million for the travel expenses.

“I will visit them this weekend because one of the things we have noticed is that our boxers lack the confidence inside the ring and are usually shy. We need to change that mentality to boost our chances of winning,” said Vargas.

Meanwhile, Vargas also mentioned that ABAP’s search for the first Filipino heavyweight has shown positive results as they have found a 31-year-old pure Filipino fighter, a mixed martial artist in the US.

“He is a pure Filipino who is now an MMA fighter. We have also found a Fil-Aussie and another Fil-Am fighter,” said Vargas.

ABAP actually asked Alex Crisano to try his luck in boxing but the PBA cager, who also graced the session, turned down the offer and reiterated his desire to stay as a player.

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