FILIPINO boxing idol and Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao could finally end a 92-year wait for a gold medal, that is if the Amateur International Boxing Association will have its way.
No less than AIBA’s Taiwanese president, Dr. Ching Kuo Wu has extended his invitation to the Filipino eight-division champion to compete in the 28th staging of the Rio Olympics set Aug. 5 to 21 in Brazil during the world amateur boxing championships held in October last year in Qatar, where Pacquiao was one of the special guests.
“Why not? For as long as it’s for the country,” Pacquiao said when asked whether he is amenable to carrying the country’s flag in the Olympics during one of his training sessions at the MP Wild Card Gym in General Santos City, where he is in deep preparation for his coming fight with American Timothy Bradley.
“Kahit walang bayad, lalaban ako sa Olympic Games alang-alang sa bayan at sa ating mga kababayan. Para mabigyan na natin ang Pilipinas ng kanyang kauna-unahang gintong medalya na matagal-tagal na rin naman nating pinapangarap” added Pacquiao, who is considering the Bradley fight as the last of his 21-year pro career.
Pacquiao added, however, that he is still studying the matter.
“Kung walang malalabag na regulasyon or rules, for that matter, I’m in. Even to the extent of postponing my planned retirement, it’s okay with me,” he said.
“It’s a big honor to be invited to this landmark event that will give small countries like the Philippines a chance of winning Olympic medals. Good for us, good for boxing. Good for sports in general,” he added.
AIBA’s invitation to Pacquiao has assured the 37-year-old Filipino sensation of a wildcard ticket, allowing him an outright passage into the main draw without having to undergo several Olympic qualifying tournaments,
After seeing action in 22 editions of the Summer Games, Filipino athletes have so far brought home a pair of silver medals, both in boxing —Anthony Villanueva in 1964 in Tokyo and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in 1996 and seven bronze medals, three of them, also in boxing.
Villanueva’s father Jose “Cely” went home with a bronze from Los Angeles in 1932, a feat duplicated by fighters