KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Watching Eumir Felix Marcial tear through the middleweight tournament of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, one would not think that the burly boxer was hampered by an injury of any sort.
Yet an injury was exactly what Marcial was enduring just to compete in the biennial meet, where he was gunning for a second gold medal in as many weight divisions.
The knuckles in Marcial's left hand – the one that he uses to land sharp, heavy straight punches – had been ailing him for months now, ever since his failed attempt to qualify for the Olympics in 2016. They had tried to treat it repeatedly, but the pain remained.
The thought of not competing, or quitting due to the pain in his hand, never crossed Marcial's mind, even as he admitted that his left was only at 60% fitness.
"Alam ng mga coaches at ng mga kasamahan ko na may injury ako," Marcial said on Thursday, in the wake of his demolition of Thailand's Pathomsak Kuttiya in the final of the middleweight division.
"Masakit ang kamay ko. Pero sabi ko, ang inisip ko ngayon, last na ito. Wala ng bukas. Bahala na," he emphatically said.
"Kahit bukas, palitan ang kamay ko, basta ngayon, manalo ako," he further declared.
The decision to fight through pain paid off handsomely for Marcial, in the form of a second SEA Games gold medal. He showed no signs of injury against his Thai opponent, repeatedly scoring points off blows to the head while at easily shaking off Kuttiya's punches.
Indeed, it was a straight left that sealed the deal for Marcial, as he landed a blow late in the third round that forced the referee to give the Thai a standing eight count.
"Tinitiis ko lang (ang sakit), kasi ito 'yung sport ko," Marcial said earnestly after his 5-0 decision win. "Ito 'yung pinili ko na sport. Dapat, magtiis talaga."
With the SEA Games gold safely in the bag, Marcial can now get his hand checked and take steps toward fully healing the injury. It will be crucial for the 21-year-old Zamboanga City native, as he plans on representing the Philippines in even more prestigious tournaments in the future.
"Ito ang unang step ko," he said of his SEA Games triumph. "Gusto ko, step by step, gusto ko ma-achieve ko ang SEA Games, Asian Games, at Olympics."
"Ngayon pa lang, iniisip ko na dapat, mas mag-train ako ng maayos. Mas do-doblehin ko pa ang training ko, para sa Asian Games," Marcial promised.
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