Filipino boxer Renerio Arizala fought the battle of his life—outside the ring—and won.
Arizala suffered a knockout loss, fell into a coma for 10 days and had two brain surgeries in Yokohama, Japan.
Only last Wednesday, Arizala came back to his home country with everything intact, including his senses and positive attitude.
“Maraming salamat po sa lahat ng tumulong sa akin,” said the smiling Arizala during his visit at the Games Amusement Board office in Makati City, while looking at the Japanese boxing officials, who accompanied him from Japan in his flight back to the Philippines.
“Sa aking coach (Jonathan Penalosa) na hindi ako iniwan. Hindi lang po siya trainer, itinuring na rin po nya akong anak. At sa lahat po ng nagdasal para sa mabilis kong paggaling,” he said.
When Arizala apologized to Penalosa “sorry po coach hindi tayo nakapag-world champion,” everybody present retorted.
“Parang world champion ka na rin nyan!”
It was a touching scene in a room filled with GAB officials that included commissioners Eduard Trinidad and Mar Masanguid, boxing chief Jun Bautista, legal head Ermar Benitez, medical chief Redentor Viernez as well as international matchmakers Art Monis and Takashi Aoshima, Japan Boxing Commission chief Tsuyoshi Yasokuchi and Japan Pro Boxing Association head Kazuhiro Ryuko
At this point, Yasokuchi, who is also World Boxing Council (WBC) International Secretary, stood up to present Arizala with what he called a “medal of bravery” from the WBC.
Nearly in tears, Arizala managed to smile and showed the medal to everybody with pride.
“Pinilit ko po talagang labanan upang mabuhay at makita ko uli ang nanay (Jovencia) ko pati tatay ko at kapatid,” added the youngest of four siblings.
Boxing, according to him, would have been his family’s escape from poverty. “Nu’ng kumikita na po ako nang kaunti, sabi ko may pera pala sa boxing.”
On that fateful night of March 31, Arizala’s road to the Promised Land came to an abrupt end, losing by a knockout to Japanese Tsuyoshi Tameka in the 6th round of their featherweight bout in Yokohama, Japan.
A few minutes in the dressing room, Arizala collapsed and was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment and a couple of operations due to blood clot in the brain.
Arizala showed amazing recovery, much to the delight of Japanese fans and supporters. He even received a pair of new shoes on his birthday, April 12.
“There was much worry about Arizala in Yokohama, Japan,” said Tsuyoshi Yasokuchi during the press conference.
“Arizala was a brave man. Unfortunately, the accident happened. I’m very sorry we couldn’t protect him completely but we tried our best,” said Yasokuchi. Ryuko echoed the same.
The two joined hands in shouldering the hospital bills which reportedly reached nearly US$50,000 or about P2.7 million.
Not as fortunate though were two other Filipino boxers, who previously suffered the same fate as Arizala.
In 1995, Pretty Boy Lucas lost via TKO to Korean Chang-Jae Kwon in the 9th of their 10-round flyweight bout in Japan.
Cebuano Z Gorres won a unanimous decision over Luis Mendez but not after a knockdown in the 10th and final round of their bantamweight bout in Las Vegas.
Lucas and Gorres suffered brain injuries and hardly recovered.
Arizala, who will continue with his therapy for complete rehabilitation, announced his retirement and is looking to become a boxing trainer.
GAB commissioner Trinidad said they will support Arizala using the Boxers’ Welfare Fund, while JBC and the Japan Pro Boxing Association (JPBA), headed by Kazuhiro Ryuko has also set aside funds for his continuous rehabilitation.