Shall We See the Realization of the Pinoy Dream of a Juan Tornado?
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sat, 01 Aug 2020
At the height of Muhammad Ali's popularity in the mid 70s, a Filipino Komiks writer stirred the nation's imagination with a comic book series on Juan Tornado, a fictional Pinoy heavyweight fighter.
Juan Tornado came from a simple, poverty stricken rural background but rose to become a force in the heavyweight division, fighting and beating the Komiks series versions of Joe Frazier, George Foreman and ultimately, The Greatest Muhammad Ali but in his most egoistic and arrogant mode.
In what was clearly art imitating real life, Pinoy Komiks readers followed the series as fanatically as they witnessed and regaled with awe Muhammad Ali's real life ring combats against Frazier and Foreman. They were fantasizing about Juan Tornado as the Pinoy version of Ali himself in all his virtues and desirable traits, sans his arrogance and bad manners.
Juan Tornado hit the Pinoy masa as profoundly as comic strip series Joe Palooka earlier and the movie Rocky, also an Ali inspired make believe film series the American public. The Rocky series would also become a big hit among Pinoys and other boxing batty nations around the world, propelling Sylvester Stallone into a blockbuster Hollywood superstar.
Of course, many Pinoys komiks addicts then were sane and sober enough to acknowledge that Juan Tornado was just fiction and make believe and that given our physique, it was far fetched for the country to produce a heavyweight, much more a world class one.
Many fans were aware that the highest division that a Pinoy fighter had fought at was the middleweight, then just a division below the heavyweight. And that it was a stroke of luck that a Pinoy in the person of Ceferino Garcia was able to win a world championship.
No sooner than Ali declined and eventually hung up his gloves, Juan Tornado the Komiks series also faded from the fantasy world consciousness of Pinoys at the time.
However in the midst of Manny Pacquiao's incredible rise in boxing in the 2000s literally from flyweight to the junior middleweight, winning a record eight world championships in as many weight classes, not a few Pinoys who grew up reading komiks began again to fantasize about Juan Tornado.
What if Manny Pacquiao was or grew up to be heavyweight in the 90s, some mooningly asked themselves. How would he have fared against the likes of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and the relic of Ali's glorious past, Big George Foreman?
But reality bit with Manny himself saying that his title winning fight at junior middleweight against Antonio Margarito, the Mexican curiously bearing the nom de guerre, Tijuana Tornado was a one and done deal above the welterweight.
Tough luck. Had Manny been at least six inches taller and sixty pounds heavier, he could have been a terror at the heavyweights. Tyson himself hinted as much when he saw Manny like a human Energizer Bunny demolished Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in quick and scary succession.
But the Juan Tornado dream may not be over yet.
Manny Pacquiao who has an eye for special talent recently signed up the ultra promising amateur middleweight standout Eumir Felix Marcial to a professional boxing contract without prejudice to his gold medal hunt in the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Make no mistake about it. Marcial is a real deal. He has the potentials to realize our dream of a Juan Tornado at least in the middleweight class.
Already rated third globally, Marcial is on a career upward swing, winning his third gold in the Manila SEA Games, a fighting runner up or silver finish in the World Championship in Ekaterinburg, Russia and a top qualifying gold in the recent Olympics Asia Oceania zonal tournament in Amman, Jordan.
If not for a flash knockdown against the host fighter Gleb Bakshi and the fact that the tournament was held in Russia at the height of winter, Marcial could have even won the world championship.
Aside from Bakshi, Marcial had his only two other losses in nearly four years of fighting at top level internationally to Uzbek former amateur standout and world champion Israel Madrimov who is now a world rated junior middleweight and Ukraine's Oleksander Khyzhniak, the world number one.
Among Marcial's prominent victims include world rated Abilkhab Amankul, Aishish Kumar and Tursynbay Kuhlamhet who have also qualified for Tokyo 2021.
Marcial has certainly a shot at the Olympic gold.
And who knows, handled by a fight legend as Pacquiao, he could be the Juan Tornado old time Pinoy boxing aficionados have been dreaming of.
At least in the middleweights.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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