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News  


‘Go For Gold’ re-launched soon


PhilBoxing.com



Butch Ramirez.

“Go For Gold,” the grassroots amateur boxing discovery program that produced three Filipino Olympic medalists in 1988-96, will be back on track before the year ends, it was announced by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and confirmed by PSC chairman Butch Ramirez recently.


Pacquiao, a “Go For Gold” fighter before turning pro, said the PSC will put up a P24 Million annual budget to institutionalize the nation-wide effort that was a brainchild of the late ABAP president Mel Lopez. As conceptualized by Lopez, “Go For Gold” aims to gather simon-pures for competitions at the town, provincial and regional levels before advancing to the national stage, similar to the American Golden Gloves program. The Golden Gloves idea traces its roots to 1923 and evolved into a national tournament in 1962. Among the Golden Gloves champions were Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

Lopez was ABAP president from 1987 to 1993 and was succeeded by his son Manny from 1993 to 2009. During the “Go For Gold” era, the Philippines basked in the glory of the triumphs of 1988 Olympic bronze medalist Leopoldo Serrantes, 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Roel Velasco and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Onyok Velasco. Another highlight was when three Filipino fighters----lightflyweight Onyok Velasco, flyweight Elias Recaido and lightwelterweight Reynaldo Galido----bagged gold medals at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.

Pacquiao said “Go For Gold” will be a collaborative effort between the PSC and ABAP. “What we hope to achieve is to give our fighters the opportunity to compete on a regular basis as the plan is to hold ‘Go For Gold’ events once or twice a month,” he said. “Exposure to competition is critical. If we don’t give our fighters the opportunity to compete, they’ll just keep training in the gym, sparring with each other. We want our fighters to be battle-ready when they compete in the big tournaments abroad.”

Ramirez said the PSC is prepared to sponsor “Go For Gold” as he reiterated the government agency’s commitment to back up a strong grassroots program and develop elite athletes. He has tapped Philippine Sports Institute national training director Marc Velasco to coordinate the effort in the PSC’s behalf.

ABAP executive director Ed Picson said he expects to discuss the re-launch with Velasco and Pacquiao’s representative Joe Ramos next week. “We talked with Marc three to four months back about it but decided to hold off discussions until after the SEA Games and World Boxing Championships,” he said. “ABAP will be the organizing entity. However, we envision the ‘Go For Gold’ format to be different from what it was before. In the past, it was an open competition across the country so there was a high incidence of mismatches. We’ve tweaked the program a bit and we’re proposing a new format where we’ll put together eight teams, two from Luzon and three each from the Visayas and Mindanao. We know which provinces have strong grassroots programs so we’ll pick the fighters from those areas to even the competition. We’ll probably open the program to youth and junior fighters in the 15 to 18 age range. It will be a team tournament like in a league. We will also look into subsidizing the training of the fighters.”

Picson said ABAP has focused on grassroots competitions at the Batang Pinoy, Philippine National Games and Palarong Pambansa levels on a yearly basis. “We’re the only NSA to share expenses for Batang Pinoy and PNG,” he said. “We work closely with the PSC in preparing fighters for those competitions. We used to do a full calendar of events on our own but now, we’re concentrated on what the PSC has in its schedule. This is aside from our program with the elite boxers. With the return of ‘Go For Gold,’ we’ll bring in a new component to our grassroots program.”


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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