ABAP picks only the best for PH

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 10 2012 12:36 PM | Updated as of Oct 10 2012 08:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines president Ricky Vargas said there's no need for the Philippine Sports Commission to initiate a nationwide talent search in a bid to beef up the national boxing team.

"I feel this would be a duplication of the functions of our NSA (national sports association)," said Vargas in a three-page letter dated Oct. 8, 2012 and addressed to PSC chairman Richie Garcia.

"But if you feel you need to do this, then so be it," added Vargas.

Garcia suggested a few days ago that ABAP should conduct tryouts "among all boxing clubs in the country so we can choose the best" boxers to represent the country in international tournaments from the SEA Games up to the Olympics.

"I see wisdom in this approach," Garcia said.

Vargas, on his fourth year as ABAP chief, also took it as "aspersions on my character and competence" Garcia's statements insinuating that there's favoritism involved in the selection of the members of the national boxing team.

"This is a serious accusation," said Vargas, who stressed the fact that the country’s reigning champions in amateur boxing hail from different parts of the country like Davao del Norte, Zamboanga, Puerto Princesa and South Cotabato.

"Hindi na puwede yung basta kamag-anak o ka-probinsiya lang (You cannot just be a relative or a provincemate)," said Garcia a few days ago.

The PSC chief yesterday told ABAP executive director Ed Picson he did not say anything about favoritism in amateur boxing.

Vargas said ABAP, under his watch, had practically scoured the entire country in search of talents. And it has produced winners in Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, World Juniors champion Eumir Marcial and World Women's champion Josie Gabuco.

"We have staged a dozen regional and national tournaments all over the country (Bacolod, Ormoc, Davao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Tayabas, Mandaluyong, Puerto Princesa, Quezon City, Dumaguete, Tagbilaran, Carmen and Bohol, among others)," he said.

Vargas stressed that thousands of young boxers, boys and girls, participated in these tournaments that drew funding from private sponsors like Smart and PLDT.

The country's finest amateur boxers are being given the proper international exposure, according to Vargas, and "the PSC does not spend a single centavo for our foreign trips aside from the Olympics, Asian Games and SEA Games."

ABAP is one of the very few NSAs that can run their programs with minimal help from the PSC.

Vargas said boxers in the national pool train for the whole year and enjoy the international exposure as compared to those outside the pool.

"However, if the PSC guarantees they can stand up to our national athletes then we are willing to allow them to try out so long as the PSC holds itself responsible for the safety and well-being of their boxers."

Vargas said they purposely stopped the practice of pitting national boxers against "virtual unknowns and inexperienced athletes because not only did this discourage neophytes since they are invariably beaten badly by the nationals, and such mismatches are also potentially dangerous."