Abap hits out at Peping Cojuangco's meddling in national boxing team affairs
Abap executive director and POC president Peping Cojuangco were at odds during a lengthy, testy Senate hearing. Jerome Ascano

THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines has hit out at the meddling of Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco in its affairs during a Senate sports committee hearing on Tuesday.

Abap executive director Ed Picson questioned Cojuangco’s interference in Abap’s decisions related to the national team, especially during their lead-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Picson said Cojuangco was against Abap’s plan to send their boxers to the United States to train for the Olympics.

“Bakit po ‘yung desisyon na nakakaalam ay nababalewala dahil sa isang tao na naghahari-harian?” said Picson, referring to Cojuangco.

“Itong training na ‘to at pinlano na ng mga coaches, sports scientists, and management ng Abap. Hindi ko po alam kung paano naging mas magaling si Mr. Cojuangco sa paraan ng pagte-training ng boksingero. I wonder if Mr. Cojuangco is a sports scientist,” said Picson, adding that they pushed through with the US training camp and produced two Olympic qualifiers in Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez.

The issues were brought to the attention of Senate Committee on Sports chairman Senator Manny Pacquiao, who’s also a boxer by profession, during the hearing.

[See Pacquiao vows bill to delineate POC, PSC functions after long, testy Senate hearing]

Incidentally, Abap’s chief is Ricky Vargas, who was disqualified to run against Cojuangco for the POC presidency in the recently-concluded polls.

Cojuangco was also against the hiring of a British coach that will help the national team, according to Picson.

“For the lack of a better term, sinabon po ako ni Mr. Cojuangco. ‘Sino sino na naman kinukuha mo, dapat 'yung kilala, bakit hindi mo kinuha si Freddie Roach o si Ignacio Beristain.’ Sabi ko iba po ‘yung amateur boxing sa professional, sabi niya, ‘Hindi, boxing is boxing,’” said Picson.

Cojuangco admitted he was against the plan since the training camp was lengthy and was held in different cities, but denied that he interfered in Abap’s affairs by doing so.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

“How do you train in three places in 18 days in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas? What would you achieve there, saan kakain ‘yung mga bata, how do you train when you travel that much? At the end of the day, they did it on their own,” he said.

Cojuangco believed the US trip may have been disadvantageous to the boxers in the long run, as Ladon and Suarez failed to make it past the first round in Rio.

Still, he insisted that his role is merely to give his advice and he was only concerned with the performance of boxing - a source of medals for the Philippines in international competitions.

“I’m only advising them because before they took over boxing, napakaganda ng takbo ng boxing. They always bring home medals,” said Cojuangco.

“Tanong ninyo sa mga ibang NSAs kung pinapakialaman nila ‘yung training nila. They have autonomy. I can’t just insist on that. Sila rin ang pumili kung sino pinapadalang atleta,” he added. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports