By Nico Elorde
The Philippines is not only rich in natural resources but it is also regarded as rich in people with different cultures, beliefs and traditions. The cultures and traditions of the Filipino people transcend to their passion on several things and circumstances that can easily be said as being truly Filipino. One of this is the Filipinos love for sports. It is common knowledge that almost everyone gets crazy with basketball, whether it be amateur or professional . This sport commands a great number of following, and in the Philippines , a basketball court can be seen in every kind of community whether rich or poor and is played by almost everyone. I, for one is an avid fan of the sport and plays the sport, too.
But let me also dwell on another kind of sport which Filipinos are very much known for and this is the sport of boxing. Filipino boxers are a plenty and have placed our country in the world map of sports. In fact, this is regarded as a sport that has more chances of winning when we compete abroad as can be seen with the numerous world champions that we have had.
I happen to be in a boxing arena last September 29. I have gone to this place several times in a lot of boxing events but this time is something different as my elder brother Juan Miguel “Mig”, is scheduled to fight for six (6) rounds against a tough fighter. The venue was full as the main event will also feature a known world rated boxer against a foreign opponent. Filipinos just love watching a foreign opponent as this makes the fight more exciting. There are lots of children and old people in the audience. I know that my father who is promoting this boxing card encourages children to watch and be interested in the sport. But I guess the big crowd in attendance is because an Elorde is fighting. People came to size up Mig and maybe compare him with our grandfather. Comparing the skills of one from the other, I guess is very common more so if one belongs to a generation of fighters, like my grandfather and father. I know there are mixed emotions inside the arena as my brother Mig is getting ready to climb the ring. Almost all of our relatives were present and my grandmother who never watched any fights of my grandfather Flash Elorde came to show her support. This time she can already afford to see the fight. But again, not my mother who does not dare watch the fight of my brothers. I often wonder why our family is involved in boxing. Before, I did not like this sport but I live in an environment with many boxers around me. This is what our family does every minute of the day -talk and discuss boxing.
As the crowd who is a mix also of men and women, cheer for every fighter that gets toe to toe with his opponent I think about their own families who are forced to let their children try this kind of sport. Majority of the boxers come from very, very poor family and never finish school. A woman who is the mother of one of the fighters whom I talked to said that this is so brutal for one to earn a living but this is easy way to get to the top and as long as you are dedicated and disciplined, you would never go wrong. I tried asking my brother why can’t he switch to other sport or just work in an office, anyway, he is a college graduate but I guess it runs in the blood and he just can’t escape that innermost desire to fight and follow in the footsteps of our grandfather.
The first round is always the most exciting both for the boxer and the crowd. The anxiety, nervousness, excitement and fear are all rolled into one and unleash on the first 3 minutes and for me, seeing my brother getting hit is the most undesirable sight I can ever imagine. But good, Mig is just ready to finish out the fight. Luckily and with all the prayers, my brother won by unanimous decision and the crowd went wild. The other fighters from the Elorde stable also won except one fighter who went down the ring with his head bowed losing by a technical knockout. It seemed the world totally crushed on him.
As the arena closes that evening, some hopes also closed on those boxers from the other stables that lost their fights. This is the sad reality of this kind of sport. A sport that must let you absorb punches for you to get your earnings. But I guess, we cannot blame these young boys. This is what they dream for, this is what they know will make them a champion someday and lift their families from the stigma of being poor. The roll of punches are nothing to them. But what does this sport really mean for my brother who, modesty aside, live in a comfortable life and graduated from a good school. Does he still really need to become a boxer? I came to realized that whatever your status in life is, if you really desire to reach a goal, nothing can stop you. Mig desires to become a champion. He puts his time, effort and energy. He is dedicated and disciplined. He is also aware of the biggest challenge and that is to protect his name. But whatever the odds are, I guess when one gives his best, you have already achieved something. Boxers come and go, winners and losers, but what I learned and the society must learn from them is that, the desire to reach a goal will never stop them whether one is rich or poor. The boys who lost will stand up again and fight, for this is their ticket to fame and fortune.