For husband reaching boxing’s mountaintop, why Frances Magsayo deserves a lot of credit

Migs Bustos

Posted at Jan 27 2022 08:49 AM | Updated as of Jan 27 2022 09:21 AM

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It is just like any other day for professional boxer Mark Magsayo to go on about his routine.

Frances, Magsayo’s wife, wakes up at 4 a.m., with still no sun in the cool Los Angeles weather, to prepare Mark’s breakfast. 

After preparing breakfast, Frances will then take care of Mark’s equipment to get ready for the morning’s training session. Even though the Wildcard Boxing Gym is just 7 minutes away from their residence, time is essential and every minute counts. Frances also monitors the time that they eat, how long they take a bath, and then checks the traffic situation for the day.

“Every minute counts,” Frances tells ABS-CBN News. 

“ ’Pag na-late ka, bawas oras mo sa training. ’Yung mga coach kasi dito, disiplinado din talaga. Para sa’kin, napakahalaga ng disiplina eh sa training. If you want to be a champion, dapat train like a champion.

“Gumigising akong maaga kasi kailangan mag-jogging ni Mark. Pero gagawin ko, ipe-prepare ko muna ’yung menu na pagkain niya or ’yung ano niya, breakfast na sinesend sa’kin ng nutritionist bago ko siya gisingin. Tapos paggising niya, kakain siya ta’s tatakbo kami at sasamahan ko siya sa bundok or minsan pinagda-drive ko siya. Then, pagbalik namin sa bahay, prepare na naman ulit ng pagkain, kakain siya ta’s matutulog.” 

Magsayo trained 2 to 3 times a day, every day for 6 days for the past 3 months. Frances acknowledged it’s routinary, “paulit-ulit.” They were also wary of the COVID-19 situation, getting regularly tested and taking extra care of themselves to stay healthy. 

This was a day in the life of the Magsayos, who decided to move to Los Angeles, in late 2020 to pursue their boxing dream; “their” because it’s not only Mark’s ambition to become a world champion, but both Mark and Frances share the same aspirations.

Their move has proven to be worth it. Since moving to Los Angeles, legendary coach Freddie Roach took him under his wing and treated the Wild Card Boxing Gym as his sanctuary. Magsayo recently just signed with MP Promotions and heavily gives praise and gratitude to Sen. Manny Pacquiao and his promoter, Sean Gibbons.

And why not? Magsayo is already 2-0 under his new management. First win was a 10th-round knockout victory against Julio Ceja in August, which put him in a position to be the No. 1 contender for the WBC featherweight championship. Just recently, Magsayo beat erstwhile champion Gary Russell Jr. in 12 rounds.

Magsayo has been vocal that his ultimate dream is to become a world champion. He also admits that he could not have done it alone. That’s where Frances fills in the big shoes. One would think that her role was limited to just assisting Mark daily? That’s just tip of the iceberg.

Besides Frances being Mark’s wife, she’s also his “OG” manager.

“Ang dami kong ginagawa for Mark. ’Yung mini-make sure ko ’yung training niya, ’yung training schedule niya kumpleto tapos maayos ’yun. Di nago-overlap. Takbo siya sa umaga ’pag Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, tapos sa tanghali magtre-training siya kay Freddie,“ she says.

Besides physical training, Mark and Frances put a premium on his mental strengthening as well. 

“Pero pagka-Thursday merong siyang neurovision training kasi pina-training ko ’yung brain niya, ’yung eyes niya at tsaka ’yung kamay niya eh. Neurovision kasi para rin iprotect si Mark kasi every sparring niya,” she adds.

Basically, Frances’ job is to prepare Mark’s food and take care of the chores at home, fix his schedule, manage his sparring partners, drive him to the gym and all others. She regularly coordinates with Roach, coach Marvin Somodio, his conditioning coach and all the other folks that are stakeholders in Magsayo’s career. Name it, she takes care of it.

“Mini-make ko rin sure na kompleto ’yung sparring partners niya pagdating na ’yung sparring, na tama du’n sa galaw ng mga kalaban namin. Meron naman din tumutulong sa gym, si Marie, ’yung manager to Freddie. Napaka-organized din kasi niya eh. Basta, pagdating sa Wild Card, siya ang magaasikaso, so may ka partner ako kumbaga sa ’pag-oorganize ng lahat pagdating sa training,” Frances says.

Mark trained multiple times a day, 6 days a week. The daily coordination is grueling and every detail is valuable to the dot. Besides the attention to detail for every activity, the other side of it which is equally as rigorous is what Mark eats. That’s where renowned nutritionist Jeaneth Aro steps in. 

Aro, a member of Team HD, was vital to Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal campaign at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is also part of Team Magsayo. But coach Jeaneth couldn’t do it alone, Frances was still vital to being able fulfill the nutritionist’s role.

“My relationship with Mark, we cannot take out Frances kasi siya ’yung translator. Para itong love triangle sa pagkain. She’s the one who’s preparing, explaining (to Mark). Si Mark, mahilig kumain at matakaw. Eating monster ang tawag ko sa kaniya (laughs),” Aro says.

Coach Jeaneth acknowledges she gives a little leeway when Mark hasn’t officially entered training camp yet before preparing for a fight. But when they officially start, “Ibang usapan na”, Aro explains.

“Hindi tayo pwedeng mag-deviate sa ano’ng plano kasi ’yung program naka-base din sa mga pangangailan ni Mark based sa training na ginagawa n’ya at ’yung week-to-week goal na ginagawa n’ya sa body weight n’ya. Naka-synchronize ’yun, and even the implementation. ’Yung dami ng dishes na kailangan lutuin ni Frances on a day to day basis, grabe ’yung detail. Kaya I cannot take away Frances from the equation. Majority of the hard work when it comes to meal prepping is shouldered by Frances,” Aro adds.

These things may seem minor to some because these stories are not commonly talked about. What it takes to achieve success and greatness is by continuously doing it with discipline, grit and will power. Magsayo loves to compare himself and his team to a horse. When a horse sprints, its vision is mainly straight, and doesn’t get distracted from the elements that it sees from its peripherals. Not just Mark, but Frances as well. When Mark is on his diet, Frances eats the same. When Mark runs on Christmas Day at Griffith Park (where the famous Hollywood sign is) as part of his training, Frances runs with him. 

Christmas 2021 was a point when Mark was at the peak of his training. Mark was under strict orders from Coach Jeaneth to watch what he ate because it was fight night the following month. Celebrating noche buena certainly didn’t give them a free pass. Mark and Frances shared the same meal on Christmas Eve — sweet potato and eggs.

Now that Mark has fulfilled his dream of becoming a world champion, there are no regrets on the journey on how they did it. As proud as Frances is as his manager, she found the biggest fulfillment being his wife. 

All this aren’t done by just love and care alone.

“Kasi si Mark, parang kami magka-bestfriend. Pero masyadong mahirap iseparate ’yung pagiging wife and husband sa pagiging boxer and manager. Marami nagsasabi ’wag daw kasi, mag-aaway lang daw kami, maghihiwalay daw kami. Pero it’s all about respect and discipline. Alam namin sa isa’t isa na kapag nasa training camp, may fine line na kailangan ko ’tong ipasunod sa kaniya, ipatupad ’tong mga bagay na ito. Kailangan ko siyang ipush, pero narerespeto ko pa rin siya as my husband,” Frances says.

“Kailangan ng napakalaking understanding. Kasi mahirap ’yung trabaho nila eh. Mahirap eh, ’yung pagod, everyday. Kailangan mong intindihin ang asawa mo. Hindi ko alam, siguro nakatulong din na naging athlete din ako before. Na since bata ako, kaya naintindihan ko siya mabuti. Parang ginawa kami para sa isa’t isa eh.”

If Frances relates their life to one big ride, they’re certainly on top now. 

“Gusto ko siya (her role). Masaya ako, tapos nag-eenjoy ako eh. Nag-eenjoy kami ni Mark kahit na parang every day nasa edge ’yung buhay namin. Napaka-unpredictable kasi lahat sa boxing eh, di mo alam ano’ng mangyayari bukas. Gano’n siya palagi. Pero siguro gusto namin pareho ’yung thrill na ’yun. Or ako,” Frances says.

“Kasi sabi ko kay God, nu’ng dati, before ako ikasal, “God, ’pag kinasal ako, ’wag mo ’kong bigyan ng boring life. ’Yun nga, be careful what you wish for, binigay. Di nga boring pero sobrang parang rollercoaster ’yung life namin, pero masaya, masaya. Talagang worth ’yung buhay namin, I mean, it’s worth living for.”