Aussie boxing coach returns favor, agrees to join Philippine corner in Rio Olympics
PH boxing team coach Boy Velasco shares a light moment with Australian counterparts Kevin Smith and Dan Abnett. Jerome Ascano

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Australian boxing team returns the compliment this time as its head coach agreed to man the Philippine corner when competition in the ring kicks off on August 6 at the Riocenter Convention Center.

Kevin Smith will work with Filipino coach Nolito ‘Boy’ Velasco in doing work for boxers Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez, who plunge into action right on opening day.

Smith once worked as consultant with the PH boxing team under the current leadership of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) headed by president Ricky Vargas.

But the boxing coach from Liverpool said he was only returning a favor extended by the Filipinos to the Aussie team when it competed in the Olympic qualifier in China recently.

Velasco agreed to work the Aussie corner with Smith back then.

“We worked together in the last World Olympic qualifier. Boy assisted me in the corner because I was the only coach from Australia,” recalled Smith.

He said it's either him or Dan Abnett who will serve as cut man for the Pinoy boxing team.

The Philippines was allowed only one coach as it only qualified two boxers here.

ABAP initially planned to send an assistant coach in Romeo Brin, but the absence of credentials and a place to stay forced the federation to abandon the plan.

In turn, Velasco also agreed to serve as cut man for the Australian team, which qualified two entries in the men’s class and one in the distaff side.

“Tulungan lang,” said the longtime amateur boxing coach.

Having worked with the Filipino pugs before, Smith said he’ll have no problems adjusting to them.

“I’m very familiar with the boxers. I know them well. They are great boxers with great chances,” said Smith of Ladon, a light-flyweight, and Suarez, a lightweight, both of whom are Olympic first timers.

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