No, Filipino ring icon Manny Paquiao won’t be seeing action in the coming 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games this August 5-16 in Brazil.
Citing he’s abiding by the decision of his countrymen expressed in he recently-concluded general elections when he garnered more than 16 million votes and earned for him a seat in the 24-seat Philippine Senate, the now 37-year-old retired fighter turned down an offer extended him by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) president Dr. Wu Ching-Kuo to box in the Rio edition of the quadrennial conclave.
The eight-division world champion, likewise, mentioned the survey conducted in his behest himself during his campaign trips to the provinces prior to the electoral exercise to determine the pulse of the public as another reason on whether he will un-retire pursuant to his announcement to hang his gloves following his victory over American Timothy Bradley last April.
“As I said upon receiving Dr. Wu’s invitation, I would love to represent our country in the Olympics to give our people our first Olympic gold medal we’ve been dreaming for a long time,” Pacquio told this writer in a long distance telephone call Thursday night.
“Pero nasabi ko nga rin, depende sa magiging resulta ng eleksyon kung ako ay bibigyan ng ating mga kababayan ng pagkakataong mapaglingkuran sila bilang senador,” the two-time Sarangani Congressman clarified. “So I asked my friends, relatives and assocciates na pakiramdaman what the people feel.”
“And that’s it, the people have spoken na ituloy ko muna ng paglilingkod sa kanila bilang public servant bago mag-isip na bumalik sa boksing, kung may balak mang magbalik,” he said. “I know many will be disappointed with this decision, especially those hoping that I can be able to finally end our country’s quest for our first Olympic gold.”
“I also hope that they will understand. For the past two decades or so naman nabigyan ko na rin naman ang Pilipinas ng di iilang karangalan kaya dito muna na tayo sa serbisyong mas maraming makikinabang,” he said.
“And I promise them that I will not disappoint them in this new venture I am entering,” he vowed. “Makaaasa sila na lalo kong pagiibayuhin na makapagsilbi sa kanila bilang mambabatas precisely because of the trust they’ve just given me.”
Since the Philippines first competed in the Summer Games in 1924, Filipino athletes have won only two silver medals, courtesy of boxers Anthony “Boy” Villanueva in Rome in 1964 and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in Atlanta in 1996.
Add seven more bronze medals, two of them by swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, and the country could only show a total of nine medals in 92 years of participation. Other Filipino bronze medalists are pugs Joe “Cely” Vilanaueva, Anthony’s father, Leopoldo Serrantes and Roel Velasco, high jumper Simeon Toribio, hurdler Miguel White.
Last year, during a world Olympic qualifying tournament held in Dubai, AIBA president, Dr. Wu Ching-Kuo of Taiwan invited Pacquiao to compete as a “wild card” in the what is acknowledged as the “Greatest Sports Show on Earth” since the international federation has decided to allow pro boxers to fight there.
The Alliance of Boxing Associations of the Philippines (ABAP) gave Pacquiao until yesterday to decide to give the local association time to name candidates to the final Olympic qualifying tournament set in Azerbaijan on June 19. ABAP is likely to name Dennis Galvan, Ian Clark Bautista, Mario Fernandez and Eumir Marcial to carry the country’s colors in the Azerbaijan tournament.
Lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Rogen Ladon, who brought home a silver medal each in the AIBA Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament held earlier, had already earned their tickets to Rio.