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By Manny Piñol

Wed, 13 Oct 2010

Cebu-based boxing promoter Samson Gelloani, who, in partnership with Uruguayan boxing impressario Sampson Lewkowicz, acts as the business manager of the Braveheart boxers of North Cotabato, sounded bothered when he called me up at noon yesterday.

"Do you have time to talk?," he asked from the other end of the line. "We have a problem. The Mexicans are reacting angrily to the controversy over Edrin Dapudong's wounds and accusations that it was part of the dirty tricks of 'friendly' Mexicans."

"It's going to affect our relationship with the Mexican promoters. They will not get your boxers anymore and Sampson Lewkowicz said he will release Dapudong," Sammy said.

I was not a bit surprised by the information relayed by Sammy Gelloani. In fact, I expected that to be the result of a news item which appeared in which quoted World Boxing Council (WBC) President Jose Sulaiman as saying that he will have the Edrin Dapudong controversy investigated during the WBC annual convention in Cancun by the end of this month.

In the same article written by philboxing's main man, Dong Secuya, I sensed the resentment of Don Jose over the phrase "Dirty Tricks by 'Friendly' Mexicans" which was the title of the first item that I wrote about the wounds suffered by Dapudong during his fight with Wilbert Uicab last Sept. 17.

I have to admit that the use of the phrase "Friendly Mexicans" was rather careless because it was open to misinterpretation. This has offended decent Mexican boxing men and to them I apologize.

But the Mexicans who felt offended will have to interpret and understand that phrase in the context of the initial stories that came out of Mexico prior to the fight between Dapudong and Uicab where I wrote about the "friendly" gestures of the Uicab camp members who even asked to have their photographs taken with Dapudong.

The phrase "Friendly Mexicans" actually referred to the Uicab camp members who appeared friendly but who in fact had a bagful of dirty tricks going into that fight with Dapudong.

For the umptenth time, let me restate the basic facts:
1. We admit Dapudong lost the fight. He was burned out by a blunder I committed in allowing a new training regimen to be introduced to him with barely 10 days to go before the fight. It was my fault and I admitted it.
2. Dapudong had cuts in his right arm and neck after the fight which we saw in the dugout. They were obviously suffered during the fight since there was no other incident from the ring to the dugout that could have caused the cuts. The witnesses were the cutman, the trainer, my Chicago-based friend Rolly Hiso and his wife, my brother Pat, myself and our Mexican driver, Alex. We did not give the cuts much attention because we were all in a state of disbelief over the loss. The cutman, Jeff de Guzman, treated the cuts.
3. Arriving in Los Angeles the following day, Sept. 18, we realized how deep the cuts were and I took pictures. I wanted to have these checked by a doctor in Salinas the following day, Sept. 19, but I decided against it when told that it would cost us about $1,000. It was there where I took the video of the cuts.
4. I decided to make the injuries public not to question Uicab's victory but as a basis for two recommendations which I submitted to the WBC which included 1) stricter inspection of the gloves to include the laced part and 2) thorough physical inspection by the referee of the ring ropes to check whether there are rough edges. The purpose was simple: prevent similar injuries on boxers in the future.
5. I also said that I did not believe our Mexican promoter, Hector Garcia, one of the biggest boxing promoters in Mexico, had any knowledge of what happened. Uicab, in the first place, is not his boxer and it is with Dapudong that he has a business interest in.

But the issue was twisted with some sectors calling me a sore loser and a poor sport. One poster even had the temerity to accuse me of fabricating the story as if I were some sick psycho who would cut up his boxer just to dramatize an issue and justify a loss.

Some accused me of being a racist. Let me repeat: Yes, we lost that fight. And YES the Uicab camp tried dirty tricks.

The wounds suffered by Dapudong were not the only proof. In fact, during the bandaging, our cutman Jeff de Guzman who watched the Uicab camp place the handwrap on the Mexican challenger, stopped the handwrapping after he noticed the Uicab camp was using a wet bandage which appeared like plaster of paris.

I did not write about this in my earlier stories because Jeff de Guzman succeeded in stopping them. The wet bandage was replaced. Jeff even brought a portion of that bandage to our dugout. I saw it but I did not give it much attention because the attempt to cheat was stopped anyway.

"Put yourself in my shoes," I told Sammy Gelloani yesterday. "Simply because I want my boxers to fight in Mexico to earn bigger purse money, I will just keep silent even when my boxer is already being abused?"

If I do that then I will be remiss in my duties and obligations as Dapudong's manager and as a boxing man who would like to see the day when the sport that I love so much would be safer and free of dirty tricks like the use of the plaster of paris.

To the decent Mexican boxing men, including WBC Chairman Jose Sulaiman and promoters Hector Garcia and Pepe Gomez, who may have been offended by the use of the phrase "friendly Mexicans" I offer my apologies and my assurance that the phrase referred to the Uicab camp and not the entire Mexican nation.

To those who feel that I should just have kept quiet about the injuries suffered by my boxer so as to maintain a good business relationship with Mexican boxing promoters and ensure good payday for my boxers, you have to know me better.

I have made bigger sacrifices to stand up and fight for what I believe is right. I went to the Supreme Court in 2008 and stopped the government of former President Arroyo from giving away half of the Island of Mindanao to a former Al Qaeda-linked rebel group as their semi-independent state as part of a sham peace agreement.

That may have cost me the last elections but I do not regret it. I follow the path where God leads me.

For my boxers not to be able to fight in Mexico simply because I exposed cheating in boxing is a small prize I have to pay to ensure that boxing in the future will be safer and cleaner.

I will never regret that.

Top photo: Uicab and Dapudong during the press conference of their bout in Cancun, Mexico.

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