Sunday, 28 February 2010

World Champ Nonito Donaire

"Oh my! That's ano, ano... Nonito Donaire!!" exclaimed a fan infront of me during lunch at Fiji Restaurant in Plantation Bay in Mactan, Cebu. When I turned to look, he didn't resemble the mean fighter last February who knocked out his opponent Manuel Vargas in the third round. In fact, he looked more like the boy next door, wholesome, pleasant and always smiling. One fan who shook his hand exclaimed that his hand was softer and smoother than hers!

27-year old Nonito a.k.a. The Filipino Flash is currently the World Boxing Association (WBA) interim World Super Flyweight champion and is rated by The Ring magazine, as the #6 pound-for-pound best boxer in the world (Note: fellow pinoy boxer Manny Pacquiao is rated #1). His boxing record is impressive - 23 wins out of 24, 15 of which are KOs.

Taking a weekend break from his training under the Penalosa brothers, he was with his wife Rachel Marcial and her father Gerry and his Cebu-based cousins. Without any posse, he was surprisingly easy going and was taking time out to pose, talk to fans and even sing! Yup, he sings! After the Brazilian night dinner show, he was called onstage and I was actually rolling my eyes. Well, after the Jimmy Kimmel bout last November, I was not too sure. Surprise, surprises! He sang My Girl by Temptations well and his rendition of his wife's favorite song I'm Yours by Jason Marz was quite good. I found out later that he performed a shadow boxing dance in the lobby that afternoon while the pianist played Eye of the Tiger.

I asked him about the next fight of Pacquaio against Clottey. He said that in boxing you'll never know what will happen and added that he and Rachel will fly to Dallas to watch the fight but will be back in Manila to train. His next fight is this May against Mexico's Fernando Montiel for the WBO bantamweight crown.

When asked if Filipino boxers are respected abroad. He said "not until boxers reach a certain level. Boxing is still considered a poor man's sport in this country and fortunately, not quite so in the States." He is happy that he is representing the country of his birth, the Philippines.

Unfortunately, according to his father-in-law, this is not true for his daughter who is a USA National Collegiate and Military Taekwondo champion. He said "She has not been considered by the Philippine Sport Association to represent the Philippines despite beating USA's taekwondo Olympic contender." As a side note, funny that Jofer Velez is experiencing the same problem with his 19-year old daughter, Karyn Velez's status in badminton. She is now training in Florida and doing well in the international circuit. He said "this is the first time for a pinay (well now, american) to score olympic points in BWF/IBF international competition."

After meeting and talking to Nonito and Rachel, I must say I am a certified fan of both. I can't wait to watch his next fight and I do wish that Rachel gets to represent the Philippines in taekwondo! I am now pondering on the politiking involved and the poor state of the athletes in this country that I may just give, despite the hullabaloo on the Party-List representation, "Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta" my vote!

Nonito onstage:


Jofer said...

Hi Rosan! Good article as always ")
Just to clarify: Karyn is based in KL Malaysia where she trains with and is sponsored by KLRC (Kuala Lumpur Racket Club). When joining international tourneys sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation, she represents the USA.

Mainly for the same reason you mentioned we took the decision to stop representing the Philippines last July. For over ten years playing 'under' the auspices of the Philippine Badminton Association, we received absolutely ZERO support.

I am excited to report as a fanatic of the sport and as a super proud father that Karyn's first campaign representing the US last Nov-Dec produced four outstanding results: quarterfinals in sto.domingo and puerto rico, finals in miami, and the singles championship in mexico! Her performance resulted in a world rank of 114 (she is currently #120), which is by far the highest ever reached by a one of ours using the new BWF Olympic-qualifying points system.

miles roces said...

great read! thanks for mentioning pba

shuperman said...


Beautiful article. I sort of
chanced by it when flipping through
google. Rachel only wants to represent the country Philippines and give it glory for she is proud to be of Philippine descent. She has often flown the colors for P.I.
in competitions such as Korea Open
and U.S. Open without support from the country. The only time she sports the color of the United States is when she is actively fighting as a National Team member,
whether collegiate or military. It is too bad that even though she has beaten and championed her weight division in the P.I., she is
still not allowed to represent.

Unknown said...

hey rosan! here's the conclusion to this story:

karyn made a run at qualifying for the 2012 olympics. unfortunately, she did not reach a better ranking than the top US singles player. only one slot is available; hence, she is unlikely to be chosen by the US Olympic Committee / USA Badminton for london.

we take huge satisfaction from her improvement this last year. of the 46 players who qualified, she beat 7 of them in recent tournaments and came pretty close to winning over another 6.

i believe the crucial factor was resource availability. we could not match the schedule nor the budget of her main rivals. karyn spent the last 3 months of qualifying (feb-apr 2012) traveling alone in europe during winter. limited funding prevented my accompanying her and fulfilling my role as manager/coach.

the irony is ... had she continued representing the philippines instead of switching nationalities (in 2009), she would have qualified! i say this without regret for the decision we took, since we know that she would not have gotten the necessary support here anyway.

along the way, her world rank reached #67 -- a new high by far. she also garnered 3 additional championships, bringing her total to 5 international titles.

karyn is now taking a short break and will decide soon whether to pursue the 2016 olympics in rio.

jofer ">

rosancruz said...

Bravo Jofer! Karyn for 2016 then! What can we do to make this happen?

Rosan Cruz said...

Sad news today. I found out that promising badminton player, Karyn Velez died in a car accident yesterday in Manila (C5). You'll be sadly missed.

Stella Arnaldo said...

Mr. Velez, I'm so sorry for your loss. I met Chibby while undergoing PT at Moro. She was a sweet lovely girl. I pray for you and your family.