Barangay Paco, Kidapawan City: In the simple training camp in the Braveheart Farms at the foot of Mt. Apo in the City of Kidapawan, where the Braveheart boxers sleep and eat together, each one has a monicker.
The smallest, miniflyweight Rod Michael Sarguilla, several times gold medalist in the National Youth Boxing competitions, is “Wang-bu” because he is the crazy one; Edrin Dapudong, the new champion, is called “Bungis” because he is giggly and quick to laughter, and the 5’ 11” tall Roskie Cristobal is “Kapre,” the mythical giant in Philippine folklore because of his size and height.
“Kapre” is now the focus of attention because after Dapudong won the International Boxing Organization (IBO) Jr. Bantamweight World Title, he is touted to be the next boxer from North Cotabato who has the best chance of making it big in boxing or even winning another world boxing crown for the province.
At 18 years old and already 5’ 11” tall, the big kid from President Roxas town in North Cotabato has big dreams for his family and he believes that it is through boxing that these will be realized.
Cristobal, who joined the Braveheart Boxing Club as a 12-year-old boy, is the eldest in a brood of six, the youngest of whom is only one year old.
He left the camp and went home to Pres. Roxas town to go to high school as scholar of his former town coach, Ramuel Ovalo, now a municipal councilor.
After finishing second year in high school, he returned to the Braveheart training camp and with the approval of his parents, fought his first fight at age 17 in a small card in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato.
It was there where I saw his potential. For a tall and big kid, he was shifty inside the ring and was comfortable with his southpaw stance.
When he hit his opponent with a long and powerful left straight, I was deeply alarmed because the other boxer fell like a log.
“My father is just a tenant in a farm owned by our relatives,” Cristobal said, adding that this was one of the reasons why he decided to turn professional at a tender age of 17.
Today, the “Kapre” has scored four straight victories, all by knockout in the first round, the last of which was in Baguio City which was witnessed by no less than American trainer Freddie Roach who was impressed by the performance of the young kid.
Cristobal is being eyed as the boxer with the best potential of making it big, mainly because of his power, explosive fighting style and size.
Besides that, Roskie, who is a shy and likable kid, follows the revered Filipino tradition of kissing the hands of the elders, a gesture which makes him endearing to people around him.
Two or three years from now, “Kapre” is expected to grow even bigger and he could be campaigning in the welterweight division, a reality that I and my brothers are preparing for now.
There is not enough boxers in the welterweight division in the Philippines and Cristobal will have to be moved to the United States to achieve his full potentials as a boxer.
Given the needed support and guidance, I believe Roskie “Kapre” Cristobal will be a name many boxing fans will be familiar with a few years from now