DARWIN, Australia – For the first time, Shera Mae Jacinto will be representing the country when she competes in the boxing competitions of the Arafura Games.
Not bad for a gymnast who switched to boxing just a few years ago.
Jacinto, 21, said she was very much into gymnastics in her hometown of Cagayan De Oro until she began bringing her twin brothers to the boxing gym for training sessions around 2014.
“Actually, hindi po ako boxer. Gymnast ako nung high school. Tapos, ‘yung kapatid kong kambal na lalake, sila ‘yung boxer. Hinahatid ko sila sa gym,” said Jacinto.
Coaches at the gym soon started to see her potential because of her height.
“Na-scout ako ng isang coach na puwede raw ‘yung height ko sa boxing. Baka daw interesado ako since parati naman ako nandoon, nanonood, umuupo, why not? Sali ako sa training nila. Pinag-isipan ko. Sabi ko, ‘Oo nga, lagi akong umuupo dito. Why not sumali ako para pagpawisan din,’” said Jacinto.
It wasn't hard convincing her family to allow her to make the switch. His father as well as his brothers are all boxers.
Thanks to the boxing program of Cagayan De Oro supervised by former national boxer Elmer Pamisa, she became good enough to win several medals in the Philippine National Games (PNG) and earn an invitation to be part of the national team.
“After nun, sunod-sunod na competition. Naglaro ako ng PNG, three golds ako doon tapos kinuha ako ng Philippine team. Pero hindi ko pinursue kasi ang pinursue ko, pag-aaral. Kaya nag-stop ako ng 2015 para mag-aral ng college,” said Jacinto.
After finishing her Education degree at Pilgrim Christian College in Cagayan De Oro, Jacinto returned to boxing and was immediately invited to be the only female boxer in the Arafura Games.
She admitted men are sometimes intimidated upon learning that she's a boxer. And a damn good one at that.
“Medyo ‘yung mga lalake kasi kapag nalaman na pang-lalake ‘yung sports ko, parang takot sila. Baka hindi ako magka-boyfriend,” said Jacinto.
But she does have a boyfriend for four years now.
“Sinuntok ko na. Nabugbog ko na,” Jacinto said in jest about her boyfriend, a basketball player. "Binobola, nabola naman [ako]."
Despite boxing being a male-dominated sport, Jacinto is encouraging women to take up the sport.
“Kaya na rin ng babae ‘yung panglalake na ginagawa,” said Jacinto.