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Antonio Lopez Aldeguer: The Godfather of Philippine Boxing

"No book about the history of Philippine boxing is complete without the story of Tony Aldeguer—he epitomizes a great humanitarian, a patron of sports, especially The Sweet Science, and one who uplifts Filipino boxers during and long after their fighting careers," my late father Hermie Rivera said on more than one occasion about his friend. "He is the greatest promoter in the Philippines and beyond, bar none."

Antonio Lopez Aldeguer was born in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, on October 15, 1941, just weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Growing up, he developed a passion for sports, particularly boxing and basketball. As a child, one of his prized possessions was a pair of boxing gloves, which he used to spar with newsboys and bootblacks in the public plaza at the age of 12– five centavos per round.

Aldeguer pursued his education at the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod, where he studied from elementary through college. He not only excelled academically but also showcased his athletic talent as a member of the school's varsity basketball team. Additionally, he ventured into coaching and mentored teams at various universities, including La Salle Bacolod, University of San Agustin-Iloilo, and University of San Carlos – Cebu.

He looked up to boxing icons Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Sugar Ray Robinson and basketball players like Carlos Loyzaga, Carlos Badion, and Narciso Bernardo. His father, a former amateur fighter, taught him how to box, and his uncle and namesake, Tony Aldeguer, a former Oriental Welterweight Champion, further fueled his love for the sport.

In the mid-80s, Aldeguer assembled one of the most talented amateur teams which became a breeding ground for future Filipino champions, nurturing raw talent that would later shine on the world stage. Recognizing the importance of grassroots development, Aldeguer launched programs in the VISMIN provinces These initiatives empowered local communities and unearthed hidden gems. As his influence grew, Aldeguer orchestrated unforgettable events that captivated audiences. From packed crowds at the Cebu Coliseum in the 90s to the historic boxing extravaganza in Tagbilaran City in 2005, his outfit showcased the best of Philippine boxing to the world.

His partnership with Golden Boy Promotions in 2006 marked a watershed moment, spawning spectacular cards like the ‘Battle of Cebu’ and the ‘Philippines vs. Mexico Boxing World Cup,’ elevating the sport to new heights and attracting audiences worldwide.

The pinnacle of Aldeguer's career came with the launch of the Pinoy Pride series in 2010. This groundbreaking initiative transformed Asian boxing, drawing sell-out crowds to iconic venues like the Waterfront Cebu and the Smart Araneta Coliseum. His trailblazing spirit extended beyond Philippine shores, with ALA, headed by his son Michael Aldeguer, becoming the first promotional company to stage boxing events in Dubai and the USA. These international forays cemented his role as a global ambassador for Philippine boxing.

Central to Aldeguer's success was his mentorship of champion fighters like Donnie "Ahas" Nietes. Through the Pinoy Pride events, Nietes rose to prominence, becoming a four-division world champion and earning a place among the world's elite fighters. In 2015, Aldeguer orchestrated the historic Pinoy Pride 30 event, bringing together Filipino boxing legends Donnie and Donaire for an unforgettable showcase of talent. This event demonstrated his dedication to highlight the rich heritage of Philippine boxing.

In a myriad of ways, he has helped fighters, and trainers succeed. Notably, one of his former fighters, Edito “ALA” Villamor, one of the Philippine’s top boxing trainers and his brother Edmund, have set up the Villamor Boxing Gym at the site of the former ALA Boxing Gym in Talamban, Cebu.

Just for the record, here are some of the long list of boxers promoted by ALA Boxing Promotions:

• Donnie Nietes (Four-Division World Champion, The Ring Light-Flyweight, once 10th in the Pound-for-Pound List of Ring Magazine July 2018).
• Katsunari Takayama - Former IBF World Minimumweight Champion
• Merlito Sabillo - Former WBO World Minimumweight Champion
• Milan Melindo - Former IBF World Light Flyweight Champion
• Mark Magsayo
• Jonas Sultan
• Jason Pagara
• Albert Pagara
• Arthur Villanueva
• Melvin Jerusalem
• Jeo Santisima
• Junrel Jimenez
• Edito “ALA” Villamor
• Czar Amonsot
• Z Gorres
• Michael Domingo
• Rey “Boom “Boom” Bautista
• Genesis Servania
• AJ Banal
• Malcolm Tuñacao

Mr. Aldeguer gave thanks to Cebu sportswriters who were part of his amazing journey in sports.

Antonio Lopez Aldeguer is a class act, and his footsteps will be hard to follow. His achievements remind us that with passion and perseverance, anything is possible. In reflecting on his illustrious career, he stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring athletes and boxing enthusiasts alike. His golden legacy continues through his accomplished sons Jay, Chris, and Michael and the multitude of successful business endeavors their family has created.

If there ever was a blueprint on how to be a humanitarian and a successful person in life, let us remember the example set by Mr. Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, the recipient of our first Lifetime Achievement Award here at the Philippine Boxing Hall of Fame.

Below, with his permission, are excerpts from his letter.

The greatest challenge of most boxers today is the dearth of honest-to-goodness and passionate managers who are able to plot their journey to reach the pinnacle of their success in terms of fame and fortune…As for the promoters, I believe their biggest challenge comes from the scarcity of sponsors from corporate firms, TV, and social media networks…Boxing promotion is a business where profit is the ultimate goal and without sponsors, this is almost impossible to attain.

I am not exactly in the pink of health at 82 years old, I am diabetic and had undergone quintuple coronary bypass surgery almost 1 ½ years ago. Generally speaking, I consider myself in good health, and I attribute this to regular exercises, a low-carb diet, no alcoholic drinks, definitely no smoking, and avoiding junk and sugary foods.

To be honest, I cannot recall how I met Hermie, your father. It could have been at a gathering of media people where I first encountered him. Since then, our friendship has been of immeasurable proportion due to our mutual respect for one another. Hermie was a dear friend and my closest confidant among the sportswriters. My most notable reminiscence of him is his distinct accent and manner of speaking. He was fun to be with and a joyful person.

The highlight of my life is having a loving and caring family that enabled my wife and me to reach 55 years of togetherness. Nothing can be more rewarding than that!

…I have been married for 55 years to Lou Chiongbian Pastrano of Plaridel, Misamis Oriental. We have been blessed with three boys, namely Jay, Michael and Chris. All of them are engaged and manage their own business concerns. They all lived in Cebu City with their respective family. I am proud to say that they are all successful businessmen in their own right.

The only advice I can share, which I likewise believe is the best life lesson, comes from a saying: “The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.” …and your father was that kind of person."

Thank you.

Antonio Aldeguer

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.

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