Long-serving, well-loved ABAP coach retires

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Nolito “Boy” Velasco has retired as coach of the Philippine amateur boxing team, a position he held dearly for over three decades.

He said it’s time to give the others a chance.

“Sila naman. Pagod na rin ako,” said Velasco over the phone yesterday after the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) announced his retirement.

Velasco had seen the best and worst of Philippine boxing in the international arena but said he would rather relish all the good memories.

“Grabe ang memories. Thirty-five years din ako diyan,” said the 59-year-old brother of 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medalist Roel and 1996 Atlanta Olympics silver medalist Onyok.

“Madaming medals rin ang dumaan sa kamay natin – mula SEA Games, Asian Games, World Championships at Olympics,” said the coach with a great sense of humor.

He considers the recent Tokyo Olympics as his crowning glory after steering Nesthy Petecio to the silver medal in women’s featherweight.

“Parang gold na rin,” he said.

That’s why it’s with a heavy heart, Velasco said, that he’s turning his back on the sport he loved most and an association that loved him back as well.

“Marami ako gusto pasalamatan, ang mga Lopezes (former ABAP head Mel and Manny Lopez), si Mr. Ricky Vargas at Mr. Ed Picson (current ABAP president and secretary-general), ang Philippine Sports Commission at si Mr. MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan),” he said.

“Pati my fellow coaches and all the boxers and my late partner (fellow coach) George Caliwan,” said Velasco, who said it’s time to devote his time to his family, including a three-year-old granddaughter, based in Olongapo.

ABAP has accepted Velasco’s retirement, which takes effect on Dec. 31, and wished the latter “well in your future endeavors.”

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