Tolentino settles grappling issue

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    DONE DEAL: POC president Bambol Tolentino mediates a pact between wrestling chief Alvin Aguilar and jiu jitsu head Choy Cojuangco.

    A DAY after being sworn into office in Malacanang, re-elected Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino buckled down to work and settled a grappling issue between the country’s wrestling and jiu-jitsu associations.

    Tolentino on Wednesday persuaded wrestling’s Alvin Aguilar and jiu jitsu’s Choy Cojuangco to settle the issue not on the mat but on a table over lunch at the Makati Shangrila, with a virtual firm handshake to boot.

    “Both federations have their own grappling (events), but harmonious and united they are now.” Tolentino said. “This is good for the athletes.”

    With the issue settled, Tolentino said both federations could now concentrate on honing their athletes for next year’s Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games set from May 21 to 30 in Bangkok.

    Both sports employ grappling as one of the most effective techniques but because they belong to different international federations with respective regulations, they didn’t meet halfway – unntil Wednesday when the differences were finally settled.

    “As Filipinos and part of the same POC family, we must all find mutually beneficial grounds regarding our sports,” Wrestling Association of the Philippines president Aguilar said. “The goal here is to make all of the sports under our banners as strong as possible.

    “Jiu-jitsu under the JJIF (Jiu-jitsu International Federation) and Grappling under the UWW (United World Wrestling) will co-exist in our country the way it does all over the world,” Aguilar added. “Our respective NSAs each have their own athletes and different programs.”

    Cojuangco, the Jiu-jitsu Federation of the Philippines president, said the issue wasn’t that deep because his sport has its own international federation.

    “We’re happy we already settled what we needed to settle. Our federation is open to any clubs and we’re not barring our members to participate with them or their members to join us, including those who want to qualify for the national team,” Cojuangco said.

    “At the end of the day, it’s our international federation that has the final say on our respective events,” Cojuangco added.