SENSING a new leadership is needed in the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) following another disappointing showing in the Rio Olympics, Ricky Vargas said he is ready to step down as president as he called for an immediate election.
Vargas said he will just await the return of executive director Ed Picson from the Rio Games before elections are held in an association he has headed for the past eight years.
“When executive director Ed Picson returns from Rio, he and secretary general Patrick Gregorio will call for the 2016 ABAP election at the soonest possible time,” said Vargas in a statement.
Although he made no mention of plans to step down, Vargas said "we need a new leadership to refresh Abap and inspire our pipeline of next generation boxers in our pool."
The move by the ABAP leadership came less than 24 hours after Rogen Ladon lost by unanimous decision, 3-0, to Yurbejen Martinez of Columbia in the 48kg class, completing a wipeout of the Philippine team in the boxing competitions in Rio.
Ladon, 22, initially loomed as the country’s best bet to win its first ever Olympic gold until absorbing the shocking loss at the hands of Martinez Sunday (Monday night, Manila time) at the Riocentro Pavilion 2.
Charly Suarez, the other member of the two-man boxing team, earlier vowed out of the medal race after losing to Joe Cordina of Great Britain in his debut in the 60 kg. class.
Vargas took over ABAP in 2009 to replace Manny Lopez, now a Manila congressman, in a move that began the involvement of the Manny V. Pangilinan group in a sport many touted has the potential of giving the country its first gold medal in the Olympics.
Unfortunately, in the last two Olympics under the current Abap leadership, Filipino boxers had not gotten past the preliminaries, with Mark Barriga going the farthest when he made the round of 16 of the 2012 London Games.
While Abap delivered a gold in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China (Rey Saludar), a couple of silver and bronze medals in the World Championships, and managed to maintain its supremacy in the Southeast Asian Games, Vargas is aware the ultimate measurement of success remains the Olympics.
“We had our share of success in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, and World Championships, but of course, the standard is the Olympics, and we have been unsuccessful there,” he acknowledged.
Eight years at the helm of one of the most powerful and successful national sports associations in the country is enough for Vargas that he’s ready to step down from his post and let others try to accomplish what he failed to do at Abap.
“We need new leadership to refresh ABAP and inspire our pipeline of next generation boxers in our pool,” he stressed. “We did our best, and now it’s time to turn the baton over after eight years of leadership.”
He ended by thanking Pangilinan and the Filipino people for the support he had gotten in his stint as chief of the country’s governing body for boxing.
“We thank chairman MVP and the entire Filipino nation for their support to boxing,” Vargas said.