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Dong Secuya
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Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
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Homer D. Sayson
NBA Section Editor




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News  


The same Gerry I used to know


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO --- It was supposed to be an interview between columnist and news source, but the early Friday afternoon conversation quickly morphed into something more personal, one that carried along with the easy comfort of old friends.

And that's because the gentleman on the other end of the line was, indeed, an old friend -- the great Gerry Penalosa. Heck, we literally grew up together in Cebu City, where he migrated from San Carlos City to find his way as a young and devastatingly gifted fighter, while I tried to carve a nitch for myself in the far less violent world of sportswriting.

In his heyday, Gerry was my idol. He was heaven's blessing to the bantamweight division, an otherwordly talent wrapped in a 5-foot-4 inch frame with a killer left hook. Gerry was quick as a heart attack, so fast with his hands and feet that his victims often insist they got beat up by two people in the ring.

Before I became an assistant sports editor of a Cebu newspaper in the early 90s, I actually surrendered a lot of my few, precious pesos to see some of Gerry's fights at the Cebu Colisuem. And I couldn't remember paying for something more worthwhile.

Gerry was a consummate entertainer. He wowed fans with his defense, impressed judges with his speed and mesmerized his foes with the brilliant art of his counter-punching. Back then, Gerry's fights weren't just fights, they were huge events, happenings, shows and clinics packaged into one promotion.

And when he finally stopped hitting and punishing people for a living at age 38, Gerry had multiple world titles to show for it. And we, his adoring fans, have been left with a lifetime of memories to cherish and reminisce.

Upon his retirement, Gerry didn't just piss his money away like many rich and retired athletes do. Gerry ditched the leather gloves and cheap robe for a businessman's suit. He opened his own gym, gathered a stable of fighters and became a promoter-slash-manager.

In the undercard of Saturday night's Pacquiao-Marquez IV, Filipino pug Michael Farenas will slug it out with Cuban phenom Yuriorkis Gamboa for the interim WBA super featherweight title. Farenas is managed and promoted by Gerry Penalosa and that is why the affable southpaw is in Las Vegas.

Gamboa, 30, is an undefeated knockout machine. Sixteen of his 30 foes reluctantly went horizontal when faced by the Cuban's murderous power. And while Gamboa is a solid favorite, Gerry is confident that the 28-year old Farenas, who wields more than just a dollop of power himself (26 KOS in 41 fights) will turn in an upset.

I hope so, too. But whatever happens, happens.

Either way, I am extremely happy for both Farenas and Gerry. With the title shot, Farenas will hopefully earn enough money to make his and his loved ones lives better. And I couldn't be happier for Gerry, his wife Goody and their two kids -- Julio Cesar and Julienne. It looks like this Gerry the entrepreneur thing is working out quite well. Amazingly, he has juggled the act of being father, provider and businessman.

I haven't talked on the phone or spoken personally to Gerry since 2008, when he rushed to my rescue as I went through a terrible period of unimaginable self-implosion.. And yet there we were Friday afternoon, two friends reconnected by the mutual love for a sport that had bound us together in the first place frist place -- boxing.

I'm 44 years old now, feeling good but weathered by both time and fate. As a columnist for NBA.com Philippines, I currently own a season pass that allows me to watch all Chicago Bulls home games as well as the opportunity to visit any NBA arena to cover the league. And as a columnist of this wonderful site, I still get credentialed to the big boxing fights.

But in this stage of my life, I have completely realized that nothing brings me greater joy than being with my wife Ermee and our nine-year old son John Arthur, who unlike his dad, is smart enough to be enrolled in a school for intellectually gifted children.

Gerry, meanwhile, is 40 but going on 30. To paraphrase the great Jim Murray, Gerry looks like a Greek God while I look like a Greek restaurant.

Levity aside, Gerry still has that easy charm, the youthful exuberance and infectious laugh. In other words, he's the same of old dude I first met some 20 long years ago.

P.S. -- My gratitude to Rich Mazon, PhilBoxing.com's hard-charging columnist-reporter who took time out of his busy schedule to hook me up with Gerry. whose number I somehow lost.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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