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Sports

Paalam turning garbage into gold?

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star

TOKYO – Grassroots program produces performers and achievers.

A testament to this is Carlo Paalam who’s shining in the grand arena here with his victories over seasoned rivals that carried him to the quarterfinals of the boxing competition in the XXXII Olympiad.

Another win will guarantee him of a bronze medal.

This young, gritty fighter is a product of the “Boxing at the Park” program of Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno absorbed later on by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).

Like many boxers before him, Paalam is from humble beginnings, taking boxing in his spare time as a scavenger of recyclable materials.

A big break came when ABAP coach Elmer Pamisa, a two-time SEA Games silver winner during his time as an athlete, spotted the young boy back in 2010.

“Noong nakausap ko sabi ko ‘ano ba ginagawa mo? Nangangalakal coach.’ Nakikita ko siya, nanghinayang ako. Sabi ko ‘mag-boxing ka na lang, baka dyan ka umasenso,’” Pamisa recalled.

A misunderstanding drove Paalam away from the boxing camp in 2012. But no sooner – thanks again to Pamisa – Paalam was reinstated.

“Pagbalik ko from a competition in Armenia, hinanap ko siya. Nakita ko sa basketbolan nagbabasura naman. Sabi ko ‘bakit ka umalis? Balik ka at ako na bahala. Nakikita ko malaki ang tsansa mo,’” said Pamisa.

Making the most of his second chance, Paalam proved to be a gem of a fighter, running a long streak of victories in the Batang Pinoy and the Philippine National Games.

“First time kong nakita yan, nakita ko madiskarteng lumaro at talagang matapang,” said Pamisa.

And with polishing in the national team, Paalam now looms as a medal contender in the Tokyo Games.

He goes for a sure bronze versus Uzbek Shakhobidin Zoirov in their quarterfinals face-off tomorrow.

Zoirov is the gold medal winner in the Rio Games.

But Paalam isn’t fazed.

“Tiwala lang sa sarili, tiwala sa coaching staff at tiwala sa Panginoong Diyos,” said Paalam.

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