LOS ANGELES – Who says a champion with a lion’s heart doesn’t shed a tear?
Jerwin Ancajas doesn’t mind.
The reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight title holder was unable to control his emotions as he looked back on the hard road he’d taken with trainer and manager Joven Jimenez just to reach the top of the boxing world.
“Dati nagdadasal lang ako na sana malagay ang pangalan ko sa history ng boxing sa Pilipinas. Pero ito ngayon nangyari na po,” he said as the champion addressed the Filipino-American community here that attended the ‘Meet and Greet’ event on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) at the Filipino Cultural Center to promote his coming championship fight with compatriot Jonas Sultan.
“Kaya nagpapasalamat po ako sa trainer at manager ko kay coach Joven (Jimenez) sa lahat ng sakripisyong ginawa niya para sa akin.”
It was at this point that Ancajas’ voice began to crack.
“Naiiyak ako kasi nakamit ko na po ang pangarap ko sa boxing,” said the champion amid a round of applause from the crowd. “Totoo po talaga yung nararamdaman ko ngayon. Dati pangarap lang ngayon nagkatotoo na. Lahat ng pinagdasal ko sa Panginoon natutupad na.”
And so he vowed not to waste all the golden opportunities going his way right now, including his May 26 showdown against Sultan at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
“Kaya pagbubutihan ko kung anuman yung binibigay Niya. Hindi ko sasayangin talaga ito,” he said.
But the champion is aware Sultan is also ready to prove himself.
“Alam ko kung gaano yung paghihirap ni Sultan, kasi naranasan ko rin yung pagiging challenger,” said the 26-year-old Ancajas. “Ako din naman nagsakripisyo ngayon, kaya ayaw ko ring sayangin yung pinaghirapan namin ni coach Joven lalo na at marami kaming tinutulungan na boxers.”
“Sabi nga nila bawat laban, lumaban ka hanggang sa huli.”
Both Ancajas and Sultan were given plaques of appreciation by the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) under Fernandico Gonong Jr. for making the first all-Filipino world championship fight possible in the last 93 years.
Also accorded the same honor during the program organized by SPIN.ph photographer Jason 'JhayO' Otamias and Doc Ed dela Vega, were LA-based trainer and Freddie Roach right hand man Marvin Somodio, international matchmaker Sean Gibbons, and three-time world division champion Donnie Nietes.
The event was also graced by rising lightweight prospect Romero Duno, Olympian Mark Barriga, former Asian Games gold medal winner Bobby Jalnaiz, former national team stalwart Delfin Boholst, former world contender Michael Farinas, and former world champion Rodel Mayol.