DESPITE the difficulties of keeping the boxing program alive, young amateur boxers of Cagayan de Oro City remain a force to be reckoned with in the national front.
The CDO boxing team's latest breakthrough came when it bagged the overall championship in the Mindanao leg of 2019 Batang Pinoy Games held in Tagum City, Davao del Norte last month.
The city captured four gold medals courtesy of Lady Jane Payla in the junior girls pinweight division, Angelou Lofranco in the junior boys pinweight, Jhasli John Illudar in the junior boys light flyweight and Rhein Jhon Gidor in the junior boys flyweight.
For Cagayan de Oro, it all started with a province-wide sportsfest held in January 2005 when Oscar Moreno, then governor of Misamis Oriental, helped discover potential talents not only in boxing but also in basketball, chess and volleyball.
Out of the hundreds of youthful aspirants who saw action in the sportsfest, a select pool was chosen and a stable of boxers slowly developed into the core of the Misamis Oriental Amateur Boxing Team.
The team's baptism of fire came in the National Invitational Amateur Boxing Tournament in Magpet, North Cotabato where Daryl Basadre bagged the silver medal under the tutelage of two-time Olympian and Asian Games medalist Roberto Jalnaiz as head coach and Roel Densing as team manager.
“Dito na dayon naka-decide si Governor Moreno nga magbutang og training pool sa boxing (That’s the time when Governor Moreno decided to form a training pool in boxing),” Densing recalled.
The program enjoyed enormous success until 2013 when Moreno’s political rival disbanded the boxing program.
Compelled to rescue the young boxers of the province, Moreno, elected mayor that same year, took them under the wings of the city government of Cagayan de Oro.
Bolstered by Moreno's commitment, the CDO Amateur Boxing Team won overall championship honors in the Batang Pinoy Mindanao Leg in Ozamiz City in 2018, the Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur; the Philippine National Games in Cebu City; and the Philippine Sports Commission-Pacquiao Amateur Boxing Cup in Davao City.
Moreno's amateur boxing program produced world-class boxers like world champion Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo and the Pagara brothers, Jason and Prince Albert, who are now making a name for themselves in the professional boxing world. Another pride of CDO is Carlo Paalam who won the bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games.
The Cagayan de Oro boxing team currently has more than 20 male and female boxers in its stable. Moreno’s ultimate dream is to produce an Olympian.
Last October, the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF) and Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) donated P1-million worth boxing equipment for the city’s amateur boxers.
Another donor, Embrace and Jaime Ongpin Foundation, gave sleeping materials, toiletries and medical packs.
“With their recent success (in the Batang Pinoy Mindanao Leg), there's no way to go but up for Cagayan de Oro's boxing team,” said Moreno.