(Editor’s Note: In reaction to the recent report on Filipino boxers that was aired recently on national television, Filpress organizer Jaime Pimentel wrote the following opinion piece. Mr. Pimentel, at his ripe age of 79, still does some weekend sparring in an undisclosed boxing ring somewhere in Sydney.)
The allegations have put a sour dimension to bringing Filipino boxers to Australia to earn a better income and return home with some credibility and better self-esteem.
One must understand that Dido Bohol is not the only boxing manager bringing fighters to Australia. Other managers, many of them Australians, would now be reluctant to bring Filipinos and prefer to engage Thais, Indonesians, and Koreans.
How can a manager provide a cozy lifestyle for boxers who can earn only about $1,000 or $2,000 to fight once a month, if lucky, and recover advance costs of boxers’ passports, visas, return airfares, match-making fees, trainers’ fees, training and fighting gear, meals, lodging, and a bit of spending money? Not to mention a manager’s commission. Interestingly, almost all our boxers immediately ask for a mobile phone when they arrive.
Furthermore, the Australian embassy in Manila may now be reluctant to approve Filipino boxers’ sports visas for, understandably, suspecting their hidden agenda to end up as undocumented aliens seeking residency and citizenship.
As to the story about Roberto Ruiz who took his own life, not too many of us know what really happened. Reports on television did not tell the whole story. Perhaps it’s best not to entertain the report in its entirety.
For the meantime, I would like the Filipino community to open our eyes to the boxers who are giving a good account of themselves as Filipinos and sportsmen in the eyes of the Australian public and around the world.
It’s sad that we are not supporting them as we do visiting Filipino movie stars, for whom we pay a fortune to watch them perform and earn a hundred times more than one Filipino boxer putting his body on the line for five or six bouts a year in Australia.