GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao still has to decide when to hang his gloves but many young boys from this city–his hometown–are already training to try those lucky gloves of the local pride for size.
The aspiring boxers here believe their future is in the boxing gym, not in school, as they see how the world is abuzz over what is dubbed as “The Fight of the Century” with a prize pot said to reach $400 million.
Scarleth Jordan, 44, from General Santos City, is a mother of 6. All his four sons are into boxing – Zaldy, Jr, 22; Joash, 19; Ken, 17; and Donato, 12. The elder three have left school and are training full-time under their father, Zaldy, 57.
The youngest, Donato, just finished grade school. Unlike other children who dream of getting a college education, he wants to follow the path that his brothers have taken and also focus on boxing once he has finished high school.
The Jordan boys have several medals to their name from their boxing matches, not from school.
“It’s every mother’s dream for their children to graduate and finish school but what can I do, they don’t want to go to school anymore. So I just send my daughters to school instead, because for my sons, all they want is boxing,” Scarleth said in the Visayan dialect.
It’s like they’re also in school studying, except that they don’t carry books, but gloves, she added.
Their “school” is the People’s Champ Gym, where they train every single day.
The Jordan brothers are herded by their father every morning to jog as part of their training.
A tricycle driver, their father Zaldy shortens his day’s work to drive his boys to the gym.
“I got them into boxing because with my work now, I cannot afford to send them to school to get a degree. They are six. So even if only one of my four sons would become a world champion, we can already afford their dream and they can also make their dreams for their own families come true. They can make their children become doctors or pursue any four-year course, that I have not provided them,” Zaldy said in their dialect.
Training for boxing is just as hard as studying, even harder, Scarleth said.
“At the end of the day, their strength is all spent and they are very tired. But at least they are kept away from drugs and other vices because of the discipline that boxing training requires of them.”
The Jordan brothers believe that training is the key to their future.
That’s what they saw in Pacquiao.
“He [Pacquiao] struggled in life. He just trained so hard to reach his dream of a good life,” Donato said.
Zaldy, Jr. said they grew up watching boxing bouts in the town plaza.
“Our idols are Rolando Navarette before and now it’s Manny Pacquiao,” he added.
General Santos City or GenSan is known as “home of boxing champions,” having produced a number of world-class boxing titlists and title campaigners.
Navarette, dubbed as the “Bad Boy from Dadiangas (Dadiangas was General Santos’ old name),” was the World Boxing Council super featherweight king from August 29, 1981 to May 29, 1982.
A boxing superstar, he basked in the celebrity trappings: a beautiful house, a sports car, trophy girlfriends and wild parties.
Now 57, living in Hawaii and surviving on doleouts, he is a picture of a dream that turned into a nightmare.
GenSan’s aspiring boxers learn valuable lessons from the life stories of Navarrete and Pacquiao.
One thing common with Navarrete and Pacquiao’s rags- to- riches journey (although in the case of Navarrete, from riches he returned to rags) that they find suitable to their circumstances is that school is not the only place to make one’s dream of fame and fortune come true.
Poverty, as they saw in their two homegrown idols ,can be knocked out in the boxing ring.
VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”