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Why so sudden Hermie, lovable warrior?


PhilBoxing.com




THERE was never a dull moment with him, but the famous broadcaster and boxing expert Hermie Rivera was once stunned into silence when Muhammad Ali turned to him on stage and quipped, ?Hey, you?re not as dumb as you looked.?

Rivera was working as master of ceremonies in the press conference for the 1975 Thrilla in Manila at the old Manila Hilton Hotel.

News of Rivera?s death on Saturday snapped like thunderclap and caught many dumbfounded with grief.

?Our dear friend Hermie has left us,? veteran sportswriter Eddie Alinea said in a text message. He said he got the sad news from a friend in California.

**

The famous journalist Nigel Collins, former editor-in-chief of Ring Magazine, said he was deeply saddened and described Rivera as ?a lovable rascal, one of the most colorful people I?ve known.?

?I like him very much and I feel terrible, I would like to write something about him,? Collins told broadcaster Ronnie Nathanielsz.

Nathanielsz, a former broadcast teammate of Rivera, said the world of boxing lost a genuine lover of the sport who ?knew boxing inside out.?

**

Rivera died in the hospital on Saturday where he was rushed after suffering a stroke the day before. He was 77.

It was hard to believe. Hermie had promised to visit later this month. It had been his practice to host friends to a goat party in his old place at the Roxas District in Quezon City each time he would visit from Newark, California.

The last three occasions though, the gathering was held at Peter Lee?s Hong Kong Teahouse in Ermita, Manila, with Hermie at the head table waiting with surprises in a paper bag, even if his homecoming did not co-incide with the holiday season.

**

Hermie had wanted to use this aborted homecoming for a chance to link up with Luisito Espinosa, a sunburnt, hungry bamboo pole gatherer he had taken out of the cruel slums of Tondo, and weaned into a world boxing champion.

Espinosa, who went on to reign as world bantamweight and featherweight boxing king, now works as a boxing trainer in Hong Kong. Hermie was up on his toes pursuing the payment of Luisito?s purse for a controversial championship bout in Koronadal, South Cotabato in 1997. The much-delayed purse payment has been ordered by the Court of Appeals.

Rivera had also made the burly Fil-American junior welterweight Morris East a world boxing champion.

**

Rivera was in the process of finalizing the last chapters of an incisive book on Manny Pacquiao, that had seen him staying real close to Pacquiao in all of the world boxing icon?s fights this decade.

Hermie, a favorite friend and comforter of the late Flash Erlorde, had fought big battles for the sake of Philippine boxing.

He was still dreaming of the day when aspirant fighters all over the country, mainly from the grassroots, could benefit from technical and skills transfer through boxing training centers, a national academy possibly, when he passed away.

**

Hermie was at the forefront of annual gift-and-cash doleout affairs for disabled and destitute former boxers several of whom, like Anong Junior, Pusa, Tony Chavez, Puring Bulag, etc., he had taken in as messenger or assistant.

Boxing was so close to his heart that, when he chaperoned the young, clean-cut Socrates Batoto to a world title challenge in South America, correspondents ganged up on the rugged, frayed-browed Rivera at the airport for an interview. They mistook the peppery manager for the Filipino title challenger himself.
Hermie did not find that very funny.

He gave a memorable interview just the same.

Photo (L-R): Nigel Collins, Hermie Rivera and Michael Marley.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Recah Trinidad.


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