Olympic Games boxing bronze medalist Leopoldo Serantes, who has long been suffering from a chronic pulmonary disease, is fighting another big battle.
He is now confined at the Veterans Hospital in Quezon City, taking on the dangerous coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Hanggang ngayon ay nandito pa ako sa loob ng ICU lumalaban sa COVID. Ang hirap pabagsakin pero malapit na. Maraming salamat po sa walang sawang suporta na binibigay nyo sa akin. Mabuhay po kayong lahat and God bless us all (Until now I am confined in the ICU, fighting COVID. It’s tough, but I’m getting there. Thanks for all your endless support. Long live and God bless us all),” Serantes posted on Facebook.
Without fanfare, the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympians Association immediately sent financial assistance to Serantes, now a widower after his wife passed away in 2019 due to an illness.
“Ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa ating butihing chairman William Ramirez ng PSC, na nagbibigay tulong at suporta sa aking mga kailangan dito sa Veterans Hospital at sa board members at sa lahat ng staff ng Philippine Sports Commission, ganoon din po kay Ma’m Akiko (Thompson of POA) at sa kanyang mga kasamahan,” added Serantes.
The POA, headed by former swimmer and PSC commissioner Akiko Thompson, is an organization of former Filipino athletes who have competed in the Olympics, including Serantes’ former teammate Roehl Velasco, 1992 Olympic bronze medalist and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, the 1996 Atlanta silver medalist.
He also thanked the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, former teammate Roehl Velasco, former boxing chief and now congressman Manny Lopez for their financial assistance.
“Lahat ng iyan ay napunta sa caregiver at sa aking pangangailangan dito sa ICU,” he said.
The PSC has been helping Serantes in providing his medical needs in recent years. He was afflicted with a serious pulmonary and heart condition and has since been in and out of the hospital.
Serantes, now 59, bagged a bronze medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics following a loss to Bulgarian Ivailo Khristov in boxing’s light-flyweight semifinals. He defeated three boxers from Egypt, Liberia and Morocco before losing in the round of 32.
It was a highly celebrated medal as it came 24 years after the Philippines grabbed a silver, courtesy of another boxer Anthony Villanueva at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Bowler Arianne Cerdena won a gold in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but because bowling was just a demonstration sport, her medal was not counted in the official medal tally.
Serantes is one of 10 Filipino athletes to win a medal in the Olympics.
With three silvers and seven bronze medals under its belt, the Philippines has yet to win an Olympic gold.
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