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STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART I: HOW BOXING STARTED IN THE PHILIPPINES


PhilBoxing.com




Without boxing events to cover because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the author decided to come up with a series of articles depicting the origin and growth of boxing in the Philippines. These will include biography of great Filipino champions and memorable fights involving Pinoy boxing heroes.

In the Philippines, boxing is the most famous individual sport together with basketball for team sports. It has brought fame and glory to the country, with several Olympic medalists, professional world champions and legendary fighters whose names were established or will be future awardees in the boxing hall of fame.

The Philippines has not won an Olympic gold medal but boxing has produced the most number of medals compared to other sports in the Olympics with 5 out of its 9 total medals won by Filipino Olympians.

While professional boxing have produced 42 major world champions (including those from abroad of Filipino heritage), one of the most number of title holders in the world.

Filipino luminaries like Pancho Villa, Flash Elorde and Ceferino Garcia (top photos) were inducted to the two highly esteemed boxing hall of fames - International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) and World Boxing Hall of Fame (WBHF). The Philippines has the most number of boxing hall of fame members among Asian countries.

During the pre-Spanish period, Filipinos have already established a native boxing fighting technique known as "Suntukan," which means "bare-hand fighting" in Tagalog, thought to have developed from a Filipino knife fighting technique called "Kali".

When the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the local martial arts and all kinds of fighting were banned. So fighters have to go underground where the illegal position of knives and rattan sticks lead to the growth of the sport of fist fighting.

The full development of Philippine boxing began after the Spanish era. It was reported that American soldiers introduced modern boxing in the Philippines as evidenced by a pair boxing gloves made by Sol Levinson of San Francisco. Another account told that a renegade soldier brought some boxing gloves to Filipino prisoners and trained them how fight.

But it was generally accepted that three Americans were attributed with the flourishing of boxing in the country. They were Frank Churchill and the brothers Eddie and Stewart Tait, also called "Barnums of Borneo", who were amusement park investors who installed carnivals and horse racing tracks in Manila in 1902. It was Eddie who wanted to attract crowds by training Filipinos the western boxing style for free.

In 1921, boxing became legal in the Philippines and began to prosper. Churchill and the Tait brothers organized the Olympic Boxing Club in Manila. The first group of renowned boxers emerged like Dencio Cabanela, Speedy Dado, the Flores brothers (Francisco, Elino, Macario and Ireneo), Pete Sarmiento, Sylvino Jamito, Macario Villon and the legendary Pancho Villa.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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