Filipino brothers write boxing history by JAIME K. PIMENTEL

In an Australian boxing first, Filipino brothers Danilo and Robert Lerio captured title belts in quick succession late last year to take the number of Filipino boxers who won championships in Australian shores to seven in the last decade alone.

That’s not including former Australian bantamweight champion Todd Makelim, son of a former US Marine and a Filipino mother who campaigned in the 1990s.


Danilo, 28, took the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) Austral-Asian flyweight crown from Thailand‘s Nuapayak Sakkripin with a TKO in the 11th round at Sweeney’s club in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown last September.


Younger brother Robert, 22, stopped Australia‘s Mark Quon with a TKO in the seventh round to grab the super-bantamweight championship of Australia at the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne last December.

Danilo and Robert are trained and managed by Todd Makelim.


Other Filipinos to win championships in Australia are featherweight Arnel Barotillo, lightweight Ranee Ganoy, junior-lightweight Roberto Oyan, middleweight Nonoy Gonzales, and lightweight Arnel Porras.


Australia must now have produced more Filipino boxing champions Down Under than any other country outside the Philippines ~ including the United States, where most Filipino boxers go for the money.


”But it’s sad, because our Filipino-Australians do not come and support our Filipino fighters,” laments boxer-turned-trainer Todd Makelim. ”When you ask a Filipino-Australian to watch a Filipino on fight-night, the response is usually: ‘Will you give me a free ticket?


”Yet I would see some of these Filipinos throwing as much as $1000 a night on poker machines. Or they would be willing to spend $50 to watch a local entertainment show, yet would not prepared to shell out $35 to watch and support a Filipino fighter.”


The same Filipino-Australians would pack the Rooty Hill RSL Club to watch a live telecast of Manny Pacquiao versus Oscar de la Hoya, according to Makelim.


“Are we Filipino-Australians really boxing supporters, or just wannabe aficionados who only want to bask in the limelight of a Filipino athlete?”


Indeed, even Australian boxing fans often ask Filipino fighters: ”Where are your Filipino supporters?”


In the meantime, our Filipino boxers provide the biggest exposure of Filipino sporting talent here in Australia. Because of this, Australians for their part often judge the Filipino community in Australia by the way Filipino boxers conduct themselves inside the ring across Australia.

”It’s time our Filipino-Australian community look at themselves and see how we treat and support our most valuable sporting assets,” Makelim said. – ?

Updated: 03/20/2009 — 21:41:40