Marc "Gwapo" Pagcaliwangan. File Photo.
MISSISSAUGA – The Filipino-Canadian community is all-eyes on a young kababayan who is carving a name in the Canadian boxing arena.
Marc "Gwapo" Pagcaliwangan is an up-and-coming boxer in the professional Canadian boxing scene.
Born to Filipino parents in Toronto, Pagcaliwangan currently holds a perfect record, all by knock-out.
His love for sports began at age four when his mother got him into taekwondo then basketball.
At 13, his father showed him the Will Smith-starrer "Ali" movie, which made him want to start boxing. His father then brought him to a Filipino bar to watch a fight.
"It was Manny Pacquaio. When Manny fought Eric Morales first time. He lost the fight right? But it was a big motivation for me. Inspiration for me," he said.
He spent the next year training everyday.
He lost his first two fights at 130 pounds, but knocked out his third opponent in just thirty seconds of the first round.
He has kept on winning since then.
"Fought a lot more then went to provincials two times and won the Golden Gloves about three times. And then I was known for all of Ontario for amateur boxing. I was about 19 when my coach told my dad that I think it's time for me to go professional. So I got really blessed that I met this Filipino writer from Philippine Courier he followed my career," he said.
The writer, Robert Cruz, introduced him to Mark Erwin who managed retired two-time world champion "The Canadian Kid" Steve Molitor.
Erwin signed him up as a professional boxer at 21 and gave him the moniker "Gwapo".
He then moved to Mississauga and Montreal to train full-time.
"I lived a different life and from that transition from the amateurs, it was rough. No job. No money but all you have to really do is training. It's been a blessing. God is watching out for me. I've had Steve Molitor on my side. I would spar with him too and he's been giving me all his advice about being a professional fighter," he said.
He was the first Filipino-Canadian to fight at the Bell Centre in Montreal where he knocked out his opponent in the first round.
"What I saw amazed me. He's exponentially growing. Every fight he gets better, he learns something new. For his weight, he's explosive, extremely fast," said his strength and conditioning coach, Socrates Celestial.
Pagcaliwangan is 5'6" tall, 120 pounds and fights in the super bantamweight division.
His boxing coach Glen Erjas said Pagcaliwangan's work ethic makes him a winner.
"Sometimes I have to pull him back from the intensity from what we're doing 'cause we have a certain amount of time for an athlete to peak for the fight but usually he's in a high tempo," he said.
His dedication has kept him in a winning streak.
Pagcaliwangan is now gearing up for his match against a more experienced Georgian fighter, George Gachediladze, at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga on May 3.
His goal is to be the first Filipino-Canadian and fighter from London, Ontario to win a world title.