WHILE intent on turning pro, boxer Eumir Felix Marcial remains firmly focused in his preparations for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“Primary focus ko po ‘yung Olympics. ‘Yun ang pangarap ko po simula nang mag-boxing ako,” the Olympic-bound Marcial said in the Sports Lockdown online webcast last Saturday.
“‘Yun ang nagdala sa akin kung saan ako ngayon. ‘Yun ang nagbigay sa akin ng direksiyon – ang manalo ng gold sa Olympics.”
The Zamboanga City pride ruled the men’s middleweight division of the Asia-Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan last March to become the country’s third Olympic qualifier after pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo. Female boxer Irish Magno joined their ranks after emerging as a quarterfinalist in the women’s flyweight division of the same Jordan Olympic qualifiers.
The back-to-back Southeast Asian Games men’s middleweight champion said he shared his dream with his father-trainer Eulalio, now 70, and noted the hardships and sacrifices they underwent in achieving it.
“Ang daming pinagdaanan at sakripisyo namin ni Papa para makamit ko ito. Matinding hirap kaya umiiyak ako kapag naalala ko iyon,” Marcial, who began boxing at the age of seven, said as he recalled the hard times with his father.
He remembered hitching jeepney rides with his father to reach the Universidad de Zamboanga boxing gym several kilometers away from their house so they could work out.
“Maglalakad kami sa highway tapos sumasabit kami sa dyip kasi kilala si Papa noon nga mga driver. Tapos lumalakad kami ng tatlong kilometro para makarating sa gym. Ganun din pabalik,” Marcial said. “‘Yun ang normal routine namin. Walang sahod, walang bayad, puro hirap pero training pa rin.”
Marcial vividly recalled giving his mother P300, the first cash prize that he won in an amateur boxing contest “para makabili kami ng bigas.”
The 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist thanked Philippine Sports Commission acting chief Ramon Fernandez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino for giving Olympic qualifiers like him and other aspirants in combat sports to resume actual training.
In coordination with the Department of Health and Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fernandez recently said he would open the boxing gym at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex to enable Marcial and other national boxers to train.
“Malaking bigay po sa amin ‘yun lalo na wala pong actual na ensayo,” said Marcial, who, except for online conditioning programs, has been unable to train properly in his house in Imus, Cavite for over three months now.
“Bigyan lang po ako ng two to three months ng proper training balik na pong muli ‘yung dating lakas, bilis at stamina ko,” he said.
Because he is focused on making a big impact in the Tokyo Olympics “it might take a year or two before I can transition to professional boxing. I want it to be gradual, may mahabang proseso.”
At the same time, he hinted he was close to signing with a professional promoter, most likely with the MP Promotions of Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
“Kung sa akin lang naman, naniniwala po ako na sa idol natin na si Sen. Manny Pacquiao mas matutulungan ako,” said Marcial, adding the fighting lawmaker is keen on having him in the MP stable.
“Kapag nasa MP ka na at ako ang mag-mamanage sa iyo,” he quoted Pacquiao, whom he looks up to, as saying in one of their past conversations.
“May inaayos na long po kami na mga detalye sa promoter na kausap namin with the help of (legal counsel) Atty. Clint Aranas. Matatapos na rin po ‘yun,” Marcial disclosed.
“Pero sa Olympics po muna tayo at, hopefully, makapagbigay tayo ng karangalan sa ating bansa.”