MANILA, Philippines – Sports Illustrated has chosen four-division champion Nonito Donaire Jr. as its 2012 Fighter of the Year, citing his dominant performances this year and his advocacy for a drug-free sport.
In his SI.com column Inside Boxing, boxing writer Chris Mannix took note of Donaire’s boxing IQ which enabled the Filipino to adjust to different kinds of opponents.
“He can box you from the outside -- see the lopsided beating he gave Jeffrey Mathebula last July -- and punish you when you come to fight. He blasted out Jorge Arce in the third round earlier this month, sending the rugged Mexican star into retirement,” said Mannix.
According to Mannix, another plus for Donaire is his willingness to undergo year-round random drug testing.
After his unification bout with Mathebula last July, the “Filipino Flash” has had regular random tests by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
“He has been tested regularly, worldwide the last five months and says he will continue it for the rest of his career. He won't force opponents to be tested but says that ‘if you decline me, everyone will know you are on [something],’” said Mannix.
The boxing analyst also marveled at how Donaire overcame his difficult years as a young boy in his hometown of General Santos City.
Donaire has said he was bullied and beaten up when he was a kid.
“Growing up in General Santos City in the Philippines, Donaire was often a scapegoat. Missing money? Blame Nonito. Jewelry? Him, too. Once, Donaire recalls, someone yelled that there was a rabid dog loose in a crowd of people. In the rush for safe ground, Donaire's sister was hurt. Donaire wasn't the one who started the riot but he was blamed for it and whipped when he got home,” said Mannix.
At one point, Donaire allegedly tried to commit suicide.
“One by one he tied the shirts and pants together, creating a makeshift rope from a pile of dirty laundry. He tied one end of the rope to a board above his bottom bunk and cinched the other end tight around his neck… At ten-years old, Nonito Donaire attempted suicide,” said Mannix.
Fortunately, the makeshift rope came undone.
“It wasn't his time, Donaire reasons now. Somebody wanted him to fight.”