The trail of Filipino Boxing goes down a long way and the battles fought are not brawled easily. Every round a Filipino boxer takes is a fight to survive. Not just to endure the match, but to live through the expectations of more than their fellow Pinoys who are watching, and to themselves as well. For the record, I am not just talking about Senator Manny Pacquiao. It is true that Manny’s boxing career is one for the books, but have you tried looking into the different fighters who traded punches in the global arena under the Philippine flag? Flash Elorde, Luisito Espinosa, Onyok Velasco, Ahas Nietes?
Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia… A few that brought pride to our nation in exchange for bruises, breaks and cuts. With each adversary they face, fear and distress sets in and their bones burn as their opponent starts pacing. Everything goes black except for their enemy, but when that bell rings to start the round, everything else disappears, and only the will to fight is left. For every ring of the bell, a piece of their humanity slumbers for the sake of ‘our’ entertainment.
On the other side of the TV screen, or outside the ring, you set the tempo for yourself. Every time you watch your favorite boxer contest inside the ring you cheer, you yell and you criticize. Pinoys are like that. Since Pancho Villa’s success on the world stage, we have been avid fans of the sport. But this begs the question; why are Pinoys so in touch with the sport of boxing? Some may debate that basketball is the more favored sport of the majority, but if you look at the stats and the indicators when Gilas Pilipinas plays in the global scene, does crime rate in the Philippines drop to 0%?
You may have seen a Pinoy household glued to the TV when a basketball game comes on, but ironically that is a fickle number compared to when a basketball court full of real Pinoys watch a boxing match. I think that the only reason why basketball has an edge to the Pinoy lifestyle, is because anyone can play it almost anywhere. Unlike boxing, where you will need a whole lot of things before starting such as gloves, wraps, proper footwear, a ring, etc.
That’s how big of an impact boxing has for us Pinoys. Time stops when that sound of the bell signals the start of the round. But why?! When did boxing or pugilism become such an important factor to the Pinoy? Is it Manny’s first World Belt that started the flame? Is it Flash Elorde’s speed that got the Pinoys running quickly to their TV screen whenever a match happens? Or was it the moment when Onyok Velasco’s Olympic scored his Silver Medal win that paved the way of Boxing into the hearts of the Pinoy?
I think it’s deeper than that. I have followed boxing to the core, and as I watch every single pugilist fight in that square ring I often ask myself, “Why are they doing this?” Of course, it’s for the money, but after a few matches in your career as a professional Filipino boxer you might hit the jackpot and be set for life! But why come back and face the punches when you can just probably invest your earnings in stocks and let the money flow in? In my opinion, this is a wholly different thing. This is not just money, it is something else.
I am pretty sure that you have the whole run down of Pinoy history. We were colonized by different races left and right. Spain occupied us from 1565 to 1898, then the Americans saw fit to stay for 45 years after defeating Spain on Pinoy soil, and then the Japanese used our country as a bunker in World War II. Technically, we were exposed to different cultures and traditions that the mere roots of the Real Pinoy became a mystery to most. But here’s the thing; we are still Pinoy by blood, and even though we have been through all of this, something in our plasma stayed the same… our will to fight for pride.
Yes, this is where the fire comes from. We call it the “Pinoy Pride”. Every single one of us Pinoys have this characteristic running in our veins, and it has been passed down from generation to generation. It is written in our genes and seared into our soul. In the midst of the occupation of the Americans, Japanese, and the Spaniards, we have been fighting. Albeit the fights we faced were grim. We mounted up when we heard the countdown and kept on swinging. We rolled with the punches. We battled through every single round. Some fights we lost, a few we won. In the end, the taste of victory was so sweet that we kept on craving for it. Even if the fight was not our own battle, we cheered for the Filipino Boxer who was pitted in combat.
Just like in boxing, as with every ring of that bell, we don’t care if it’s Manny, Onyok, Luisito or Nonito fighting in the ring, we will shout and cheer. We will even fight with them if necessary! This is probably one of the roots of the so-called “Pinoy Pride” and we are going to defend it no matter what. Either with gloves on or off, we are going to box our way through life. That’s how we roll as Real Pinoys.
It’s just like those famous words a boxer once said:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and will keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you HIT, it’s about how hard you GET HIT and keep moving forward.”Rocky Balboa