MANILA, Philippines - World boxing idol and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao mourned the passing of Anthony Villanueva, the first Filipino silver medalist in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964.
In a statement, Pacquiao offered his “deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Villanueva.”
“The death of Villanueva is a great loss to the whole nation. The country lost a great athlete,” the fighting congressman said, adding the “boxing hero’s contribution to the sport could not be measured by any award or recognition.”
“Filipino boxers owe Villanueva a lot. Villanueva paved the way for the next generations of Filipino boxers to be recognized in international arenas,” he said.
He hailed Villanueva as “the original Filipino boxing icon who should never be forgotten by the nation.”
Pacquiao said he and his family will continue to pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Villanueva.
Villanueva died in his sleep at 69 in his rented apartment in Cabuyao, Laguna after battling various ailments the past years.
Despite his fame, Villanueva struggled with his finances and at one point tried to sell his Olympic medal as his medical bills piled up.