Friday, November 19, 2010

The Heart of A Champion

I started appreciating boxing (as a sport) when I was a kid. I remember watching the fights of Mohammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Marvin Hagler to name a few. I was in grade school then, I used to go to my Grandmother’s house, with all the boys in the neighborhood, just to watch boxing in their black and white television set since they were the only ones who had that time. I said “boys” because it was only me among the “girls” who wanted to watch fighting bouts.

Who would ever forget the “Thrilla in Manila”, dubbed as the “The Greatest Fight of the 20th Century” between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier in October of 1975 at Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines. I was seated in the floor of my grandma’s sala where we usually watch TV with my relatives; to me it was an ordinary fighting bout, the loser would be bloodied or dumped in the floor while the winner will be jubilant to take all. I could hear people wishing for more action (since it is a physical game) and hoping for a knockout. Every fight was a showcase of skill, power and discipline of every fighter, but in the end, it was still scary, tough and gory like what Mohammad Ali said in his interview after his match with Frazier, "it was the closest thing to death that I could feel."

As I grew up, I shifted my interest to basketball, boxing was then buried to oblivion, until a Filipino boxer, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao hits the boxing arena with a bang. I first watched his fight in 2005 where he lost to Erik Morales. It was a big disappointment for me, he fought well but the cards didn’t go well with him. From then on, I stopped watching his fights live , I content my self in viewing the delayed telecast. I think I was doing him a favor since he won all his ensuing fights; not that I am treating myself a jinx but just trying to relieve myself of (would-be)disappointment or maybe what we call “pamahiin”(Superstitious).

I was online the entire time that our champ Manny Pacquiao was beating up his opponent Antonio Margarito but wasnt directly viewing it on the tube. Thanks to my friends Rolly and Rudy in Canada for the update via Facebook and to Lito who is in the US for giving me a blow by blow update of the fight (including the comments of ringside commentators).

Yes! Delayed telecast here I come. The Filipinos “Pambansang Kamao” (National Fist) Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao emerged a victor. Every Filipino (where ever they maybe) is proud and jubilant of what our champ has achieved, 8 World Boxing Titles in different divisions. That was such a feat!

The fight in its entirety was an ordinary boxing scenario, the protagonists were definitely out there to pin down their opponents and had the “belt” wrapped around their waist while viewers had their bets on their favorite boxer. Cheers were up in the air and I heard my neighbors shout in delight and amazement.

That Sunday night, while we were having dinner, my children and I were discussing about the fight. It wasn’t centered about the exchanges of blows and how unfortunate it was for Antonio Margarito; BUT, Manny Pacquiao is no ordinary fighter, he has the heart of a champion; God- fearing, confident, disciplined, humble, compassionate and worthy of his achievements.

What caught our interest was the interview made by GMA News Sports Reporter; where Pacquiao said in essence, that boxing is just a game, it isn’t about killing your opponent. It was also asked why he didnt take advantage of every opportunity offered to finish up Antonio Margarito in every round of the fight.

The 14th round of Ali vs. Frazier "Thrilla in Manila", where Ali gave hard and numerous punches on Frazier's left eye, fave the way to end the game. Frazier's eyes were badly beaten, his left eye was already closed and other can barely see. He was even guided by referee Carlos Padilla to his corner. Ali was equally strained and bruised. Mohammad Ali won by Technical Knockout. In boxing, things like these can happen again, in different time and with different people involved, possibility in the Pacquiao-Margarito match was not remote.

With due respect, I opined, that Pacquiao, in the later rounds, didn’t want to inflict Margarito more injuries at that point in time, (though he could have done so for his advantage, because he knew that his opponent cant bear more. His compassion overshadowed the manly greed for power and pride. It was also manifested in his kind gesture of giving the referee a hint that Margarito's condition must be checked by a doctor. How could a boxer thought of his opponent’s state of health in the middle of the fight where each one’s objective is to win?

To the boxing fans, it was an awe and delight for what Pacman did inside the arena as a fighter, but most of all, who could ever forget his display of humility and magnanimity? Truly, he has the heart of a champion.

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Anonymous said...

what was i doing during the ali-frazier fight?

- Brooke Yu

Anonymous said...

What was I doing during the Ali-Frazier fight? - Brooke Yu

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