KUALA LUMPUR – His physical appearance would easily have former Philippine National Police chief Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa mistaken for a boxer.
Well, he once was.
Dela Rosa, now director of Bureau of Corrections, boxed during his early years and was actually a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) boxing squad.
“Amateur boxer ako noong high school and college,” said the 56-year-old military official Saturday upon arriving here for the world title fight of his friend, Senator Manny Pacquiao against champion Lucas Matthysse of Argentina.
“Sa PMA, boxing squad ako, yung varsity ng PMA,” added Dela Rosa, who also competed in the Southern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association. “Lightweight ako (noon), pero ngayon baka heavyweight na.”
With his physique and bald head, it didn’t come as a surprise to whom he tried to pattern his fighting style.
“Kay ‘Marvelous ‘Marvin’ Hagler. Doon ko ginagaya yung style ko,” he said of the retired legendary middleweight champion known for his brutal fights against the likes of fellow greats Tommy ‘The Hitman’ Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“Yun ang style ko, sugod ng sugod,” added Dela Rosa, who’s favorite Hagler fight is the iconic brawl he had against Hearns which ended in a brutal TKO win for the native of Boston, Massachussets.
He later gave up boxing when the call for military service came.
“Binigyan ka ng tsansa ng Poong Maykapal na maging opisyal,” said the Davao native of his decision to pursue a different career.
Even with his busy schedule – especially with public service beckoning – Bato still finds time to sweat it out and box in the gym.
His trainer? No less than former Asian Games gold medalist Joan Tipon.
“Non-uniform personnel siya (Joan) ng PNP. Magaling mag-train yun,” he said. “Pag may time ako, pupunta ako ng (Camp) Crame, kahit retired na, magpa-pa mitts ako sa kanya.”
“Yun ang papawis ko kasi kapag medyo tumatama ka sa punching bag ng malakas, parang natatanggalan ka ng stress.”
Dela Rosa, who has known Pacquiao as early as his young days in Digos, Davao del Sur, joined the boxing great over early lunch shortly after the official weigh-in for his fight against Matthysse at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibit Center.
The former Davao City Police Chief was in the company of congressmen Toby Tiangco, Bingbong Crisologo, and Lito Atienza, along with former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, and Solicitor General Jose Calida in the dining table with Pacquiao as they partake on adobong manok, bulalo, beef caldereta, rice, and fruits following the weigh-in where the 39-year-old boxing great tipped the scale at 146 pounds.