Daily, without fail, the small gym of the Negros Amateur Boxing
Association in Bacolod City fills up with its regulars at around 4
p.m. It is a nondescript place at the gates of the former Paglaum
Most are students, some are professionals, one was a Korean who was
being trained by a Pinoy coach. Most of them train here every day,
except Sundays, hoping to paint a better life, wanting to do it
through the canvass.
Negros Occidental has been home to many great boxers including
Francisco Guilledo of Ilog town, more known as Pancho Villa, who died
at 23. The others are Eddie Lucero of Bacolod City, Willie Cordova of
Sagay City and Cid Vicera of Manapla and Leopoldo Serrantes of Candoni
to name a few.
The province is also home to Olympians like Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco
and his brother Roel.
This place is not the Wildcard Gym. There is nothing glamorous about
it. One of the coaches points to some of the fluorescent lights and
said it was just donated to them. He points to another piece of
equipment, “that was given by a foreigner who trained here,” he says.
There is no government support. One of the coaches told me a lot of
stories but “don’t write about it,” he asks.
This is the place where dreams are hoped to be achieved through sore
wrists and painful knuckles, sweat and even tears. This is the place
where some people hope that things will turn out different tomorrow.
This is the place where some people hope they can be like Manny
Freddie Roach he is not but a coach he is for more than two decades since the NABA gym was founded. “Kadugay na di sa akon (I have been here for so long),” he says. Before the gym opens, Cesar Nemenio is already there. I found him sleeping on a bench. He mentors young boxers nowadays or those who care to learn a thing or two from him. I asked how much he earns from coaching. He says he earns nothing | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
ON THE MITTS: Bam-bam-bam, bam-bam-bam, Cesar Nemenio shouts to help his young ward maintain the rhythm of punches. They train at the NABA boxing gym in Bacolod City. Nemeio does the mitts with his students every day | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
These posters break the monotony of the otherwise Spartan surroundings of the gym where the hopefuls train under the gaze of boxing greats | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
: “He’s 12-years-old, he really wants to be a boxer that is why we are supporting him” this kid’s mother tells me. That is important, Coach Cesar Nemenio says. The boxer, the coach and the parents have to support each other for the boxer to become great | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
He is currently ranked No. 9 in the featherweight division (126lb or 57.15 kgs) by the Games and Amusements Board. They used to live in Talisay City but the development of an upscale subdivision forced them to relocate to Alijis village in Bacolod | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
: He is Leonardo Guardiano. He is known as “The Leopard” in the ring but in the community “they call me Osoy,” he says. His father used to be a bus driver. But that company closed down and he is now a village tanod, not a steady source of income for the family. Osoy is 21 | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
He started boxing at the age of 15. He turned pro only three years ago. He is now preparing for a possible fight on December 10 where he will be fighting in the undercard of the Brian Viloria-Giovani Segura bout in Metro Manila | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
The youngest among three children, Osoy says boxing can help him and his family have a better life. He had already stopped schooling. His earnings go to what the family needs, he tells us | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
But it’s not as easy as it looks. To be a good boxer, I have to train every day, he says | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles
Osoy says he earns only around P10,000 for every bout. It depends on your ranking and how many rounds your bout is, he explains. He has not fought for several months already, thus his rating has dropped and he had not earned anything these past few months. “Laban utang sang sa ganansya subong (It’s more of incurring debts now than earning),” he laughs | Photo by Julius D. Mariveles