SEOUL, South Korea – Charly Suarez may have failed to win the gold in the 17th Asian Games, but he’ll still go home a certified millionaire.
Suarez, who settled for the silver medal after losing by split decision over Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia in the lightweight finals, stands to receive P1 million under the adjusted incentive scheme initiated by the Alliance of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) under president Ricky Vargas.
The windfall courtesy of ABAP is apart from the regular financial incentive being given by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) under Republic Act 9064, from which Suarez is entitled to get a bonus worth P500,000.
In all, the lone Filipino boxer to make the gold medal round of the Asiad will receive P1.5 million.
A gold medal by Saludar could have earned him a total of P4 million – with P3 million coming from ABAP and P1 million as provided under RA 9064.
“That has been implemented by the ABAP several years ago. Remember Rey Saludar received the same amount when he brought home a gold medal during the Guangzhou Asian Games,” said ABAP secretary general Patrick Gregorio, who also presided over the annual planning session of the PBA board of governors here in his capacity as league chairman.
Saludar won the men’s flyweight gold during the 2010 Asiad in China.
Gregorio said the gold medal match could have gone either way, and it’s unfortunate Suarez was at the losing end of it.
“It was a very close fight. One judge had Charly winning, 30-27, but the other two saw it in favor of the Mongolians by the same score, 29-28,” said Gregorio at the airport on his way back to Manila, where he was joined by ABAP executive director Ed Picson.
Bronze medalists Mark Anthony Barriga, Mario Fernandez, and Wilfredo Lopez will all get P500,000 each from the boxing federation and additional P100,000 from the government sports agency.
Gregorio, who accompanied members of the PBA board to Incheon to watch and support the Filipino boxers during the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final matches, said the practice of giving away huge financial bonus is not really all about money, but more on recognizing the hardships athletes have to undergo to reach the top.
“Remember `yung sakripisyong ginagawa ng mga atleta, `yung mawalay ka sa pamilya mo buong taon, `yung pagtitiis na ginagawa nila habang nagsasanay. Yun naman ay gusto lang naming suklian at bigyang halaga,” said the ABAP official.
The boxing team is set to return to the country on Sunday.