Lopez takes blame for boxing debacle

- Lito Tacujan -
ATHENS (Via Globe Telecom) — The Olympic boxing debacle put into perspective an amateur program back home that was lagging behind the rest of the world.

And boxing officials will make a serious reassessment and come up with a four-year scheme with accent on the Philippines participation in the regional, continental and world events like the Olympics.

"We were shocked to see how they performed at Peristeri and I take full responsibility for what happened. We admit there’s something wrong with our program and we will review it when we get home," said Manny Lopez, president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP).

Nobody among the four Filipino boxers advanced to the third round during the competition at the Peristeri boxing hall with the highly rated lightflyweight Harry Tañamor blowing his chance with an ill-conceived fight plan.

Although the ABAP has a well-placed talent search, Lopez said, its training program needs refinements to cope with the present standard of the sport world-wide.

"Competition in amateur level has improved by leaps and bounds. Our program may be well-funded but it is not enough to sustain the growth in the grassroots and its development to make us at par with the rest," he said.

The sport drew sharp reactions after the boxers’ big meltdown in one of the fronts the Philippines had hoped to earn an Olympic medal.

It was the second Olympics in a row that Filipino boxers ended up zero after medal finishes in 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta. Filipino boxers have accounted for five of the nine medals the country has won since the 1924 Paris Games.

The RP pugs—middleweight Chris Camat, light welter Romeo Brin, flyweight Violito Payla and Tañamor–spent nearly three months in the training camps in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and in Bugeat, France before coming over and being swept by top class opposition.

"Based on our assessment after our training in Bulgaria and France, we would perform well in the Olympics so we were shocked sa laro nila. Walang mga galaw," Lopez said.

The 42-year old boxing chief also said that the tough draw worked against the Filipinos’ bid with most of their tormentors having reached the medal bouts.

Meanwhile, he said the ABAP would craft a four-year scheme that would include participation in the Manila SEA Games next year, the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

There’s also a call for radical change in the training and coaching style of Filipino mentors.

In fact, PSC chair Eric Buhain is pushing for the return of Cuban coach Raul Liranza, who has brought to Athens four Cuban medal contenders including lightweight Yan Barthelemy.

Lopez said that he has made representations with the sports minister of Cuba to bring back Liranza, the man who plotted the silver-medal bid of Onyok Velasco in Atlanta in 1996.

"We need more refinements in training particularly in the aspect of footwork," he said.

Filipino officials and coaches were as much to blame for Tañamor’s ill-fated campaign against South Korean Hong Moo Won, launching body shots that didn’t count in a shocking 25-42 point loss.

"Based from our previous experience body blows would count for points, the problem with Tañamor, his body shots were not clear shots and didn’t count. We keep telling our boxers to adapt to any kind of situation but ultimately the coaches have the final say," he said.

Noting that some of the nations with impressive results in Athens like Thailand, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been enjoying full support from their government, Lopez said they would need as much assistance to fund an efficient program.

Thailand, for one, has advanced three of its six boxers to the semifinals to be assured of at least silver medals. They are light welterweight Manus Boonjumnong who beat Brin in the second round; bantamweight Worapaj Petchkoom and middleweight Suriya Prasathinphimai.

"While we receive support from the government and the private sector, it’s not enough to fund a program to make us world-class," he said.











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with