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List of Articles by Edwin G. Espejo


By Edwin G. Espejo
21 Oct 2008

PROMISING Jether Oliva defies the typical Filipino professional boxer.

He was born to a lower middle class family and is one of the few professional boxers who chose to at least finish a two-year college course before turning professional.

His father runs a canteen inside a public elementary school in Calumpang, General Santos City while his mother is an insurance sales agent.

In fact, he has been hopping from one work to another upon finishing his computer course.

But his 5'4" frame never lost the ache of wearing the leather mitts and the sweaty smell of the gym.

One day, he realized that it is not his destiny to become an employee in a company.

"Kapuy magtrabaho. Pangitaon man gyud sa akong lawas ang boxing," he narrated (It is tiresome to work. My body is aching to go back to boxing).

So despite his father's warning, he turned pro in January 2007.

In the days leading to his first professional fight, Jether trained hard. But his father noticed something out of the ordinary.

"Son, when will your next fight be held? You've been training for several weeks already," he recalled his father asking him.

Then he broke the news.

"I am turning professional over the weekend," he calmly told his father Javis.

It was a hard news he had to tell his father who vowed to disown him if he turns professional.

"There was nothing he could do," he said.

Reluctant at first, Javis has accepted the boxing arena is where his son is happy and could be successful.

Now 22 years old and with 10 professional fights behind him, Jether started his boxing career at the tender age of 12 as an amateur.

"We would go to remote barangays challenging amateur boxers in their own backyards because we were already known here in the city," Oliva recalls of his amateur days. He won several local tournaments but his memorable was the silver medal he won in the 2003 Lanao Palaro.

He was drafted to represent the city on a day's notice.

No practice. No road work. No sparring. He got to wear the gloves and shadow box only on the day before his first fight. But he still won the silver medal despite no preparations at all and fighting in a much heavier 47-kilo limit, a good four kilos above his then fighting weight.

Despite their hectic amateur boxing schedules (both he and his brother are product of ABAP's weekly Boxing at the park program), they still find time to go to school even during peak of training for tournaments outside the city.

He worked his way through high school on a boxing scholarship at the Ireneo Santiago High School. He was offered scholarship at the Holy Trinity College for his good grades.

"But I chose I-Tech College because the school was giving me P2,500 monthly stipend," he said in the Visayan dialect.

In deciding to turn professional, Jether approached brothers JR and JC Boy Mananquil who gladly took him under their wing.

Their partnership is one of more beautiful stories in local boxing.

The Manangquil brothers are barely out of their teens. JC Boy is in fact only 15 years old but is already very knowledgeable in the professional sports including all the nuances and intricacies of the boxing world. JC Boy takes good care of Jether as if the latter is his own brother. His mother Sol Mananquil built him a boxing gym at the back of their spunky and elegant new restaurant (Jam's) along Nuñez St. The Mananquils are housing Jether and several other aspiring professionals in a modest cottage inside the gym compound.

Jether hails from a family of boxers. His uncles and cousins were at one time or another amateurs or professional boxers. His mother is older sister to Charlit Rodrigo, a one time Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation flyweight champion. His brother Jimboy has recently won his pro debut while another brother is already an amateur boxer.

Jether hopes to make 2009 his breakthrough year.

"I am ready for the big fights," he said.

For a boxer who has an immaculate record of 10 wins, eight of them via coming via knockouts, Jether appeared ripe for the big time.

His most recent knockout victim was Jerome Buntog of Mandaue City whom he stopped with vicious body shots in the 5th round of their eight-round scheduled fight.

He has sparred with the likes of Bert Batawang, former IBF minimumweight champion Florante Condes, Along Denoy, Milan Milendo reigning WBO minimumweight king Donnie 'Ahas' Nietes and Beijing Olympian Harry Tañamor while he was still training at the ALA Gym in Cebu city.

His next bout will be on November 30 in Cebu against a still to be named opponent.

Jether hopes to again make a good account of himself and finally hit the jackpot next year.

For a young man who shares his purse with his parents and tithes for the church (he is a devout member of the Seventh Day Adventist), his devotion to professional boxing could someday make him the next Manny Pacquiao to come from the city.

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