The call to include boxing in the sports program of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines is getting more support from stakeholders.
After getting the nod from Olympians themselves, collegiate boxing has also found allies from the professional ranks.
Ericson Asilo, who has trained several Filipino regional champions, said boxing will attract more enthusiasts especially from young kids wishing to get scholarship to finish their studies.
“Sana nga po may boxing program na sa college kasi madami talagang bata na mahihirap na gusto ng makapaglaro sa school para lang maging scholar. At least kung hindi man makapasok sa national team, matapos man lang nila ang college nila dahil sa boxing,” Asilo said.
Asilo now has several young kids from the poor sections of Blumentrit and Sampaloc, Manila training under him for free.
“Kung may boxing sa school, eh di sana hindi agad mag-pro ang mga ito, puwede silang makapasok sa national team,” he added.
Former Philippine champion Allan Alegria, who is now coach at the MP Highland Manila, said even parents will support their children to take up boxing if they will become athletic scholars.
“Iyung mga tinuturuan namin kasi ngayon, mga pang-pro na. Pero kung may pang college, baka mas marami pang mag-take ng boxing. Pati mga coaches magkakaroon mas maraming opportunity,” said Alegria.
So far, the league has 16 events, 13 of which are part of the Olympic program for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Historically, boxing was part of the UAAP. There was also the Manila Golden Gloves in the 1960s, where collegiate teams and amateur clubs took part.
Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial and silver medal winner Carlo Paalam have expressed their support to have boxing in the UAAP or even in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Paalam said he wanted to study while training in boxing, but there was no way for him to do both.
“Gusto ko sana mag-college pero focused ako noon sa training sa boxing. Pero kung may tournament sana sa school, puwedeng pagsabayin,” Paalam said in a recent sports forum.
Interestingly, the UAAP admitted that Olympic sports are being considered for inclusion in the UAAP calendar, revealed UAAP Executive director Rene “Rebo” Saguisag.
“I think Olympic events should have a place in the UAAP. Kasi ang isang principle namin is to support a national sports program,” said Saguisag, saying the recent victories by Hidilyn Diaz and boxers Paalam, Marcial and Nesthy Petecio have inspired the league to make a review of its calendar.