HE may not be carrying the Navarette name, but Rolando Gabriel Dy is proud to be known as one of the children of the once-celebrated former world boxing champion.
The 22-year-old Dy, who will be fighting in the undercard in the Pacific X-Treme Combat 37 on Saturday night at the Ynares Sports Arena, was raised by his Davaoeña mother after Jennifer and Rolando Navarette separated.
From then on, he decided to stick with his mother’s maiden name.
The resemblance between father and son, though, cannot be ignored. Not only does he look like his controversial father, but Dy also has the passion for combat sports like Navarrete, once the toast of Philippine boxing when he reigned as World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion in 1981 following his stunning fifth-round knockout of Cornelius Boza Edwards in Italy.
Born in Parañaque and raised in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, Dy realized he was destined to become a fighter from the time he was a kid, when not only did he find himself getting involved in fistfights, but likewise enjoyed it.
“Parang nag-e-enjoy ako pag nakikipag-suntukan ako. Basta combat sport, nag-e-enjoy ako,” the featherweight mixed martial artist told Spin.ph in a chat in a hotel lobby shortly after the official PXC weigh-in ceremony on Friday.
“Hindi ko mapaliwanag,” Dy added. “Nung bata kasi ako nandun na `yung genes at talent, kahit hindi ako nag-pa-practice. Kapag nakikipag-suntukan ako, nananalo ako kahit pinagtutulungan ako ng ibang bata.
“Kaya na-realize ko na mayroon akong talent. Hindi ako marunong kumanta, hindi ako marunong sumayaw. Yung lang `yung talent ko - yung manalo sa suntukan.”
No wonder he grew up wanting to be like his old man.
“Pagiging boxer talaga pangarap ko. Eh, pinipigilan ako ng nanay ko kasi ayaw raw niya ako maging katulad ng tatay ko,” said Dy, whose father, known as the 'Bad Boy from Dadiangas,' often got embroiled in numerous troubles outside the ring even after his retirement from boxing.
But Dy would eventually be introduced to other forms of combat sports when his mother moved to Spain for a while.
He first learned jiu jitsu when he lived in Davao, before adding muay thai and wrestling to his arsenal when he rejoined his mother in Cavite.
“Ngayon itong MMA, lahat na ng combat sport pinaghalo-halo kaya mas nag-e-enjoy ako dito,” said the 5-foot-9 Dy, who was also into taekwondo while growing up.
While he didn’t grow up with his father, Dy, now a third-year legal studies student at Lyceum Philippines, credits Navarrete for somehow “helping” his career.
“Actually nakakatulong rin siya kasi nag-e-expect `yung tao na ‘Uy, magaling rin ‘to.' Pero ang negative, syempre pressured ka kasi tatay mo champion, eh tapos kinakailangan mong galingan rin,” said Dy, who sports a 2-2 win-loss record as a professional MMA fighter.
Dy, who faces undefeated Arex Montalban, hopes to emulate some of his father’s boxing characteristics.
“Yung pagiging matapang niya na hindi ko gaano minana kasi hindi ako ganun katapang na talagang brawler. Pero `yung mas gusto ko sa kanya, yung pagiging hardworking niya. Yun `yung gusto kong gayahin kasi kahit gaano ka ka-talented, pag wala kang hard work, wala pa rin eh.
“Tapos `yung hindi ko lang gustong gayahin sa kanya `yung outside the ring, kasi ayaw ko namang maitatak sa akin na bad boy ako,” said Dy, whose father was convicted of sexual assault in the mid-1980s, imprisoned for three years in Hawaii, and faced numerous battery complaints.
While he rarely gets to see his General Santos City-based father, Dy said he has no ill feelings toward him.
“Wala naman. Tatay ko pa rin yun eh.”
Dy only gets to see his father once a year during the annual Elorde Awards.
“Okay pa naman siya. Medyo iika-ika nga lang dahil sa arthritis niya. Tsaka medyo naduduling na siya kasi parang sinisingil na siya ng katawan niya sa mga ginawa niya dati na pagiging brawler, slugger niya na kumakain siya ng suntok.”