Filipino Olympian profile: Boxer Irish Magno's road to Tokyo began in rice fields

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2021 04:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 22 2021 06:58 AM

Filipino Olympian profile: Boxer Irish Magno's road to Tokyo began in rice fields 1
Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Yen (left) fights Irish Magno in their women's flyweight final at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore on June 10, 2015. Roslan Rahman, AFP/file

Irish Magno will surely have her family in her mind once she climbs the boxing ring in the Tokyo Olympics.

Magno made history by becoming the first Filipino female boxer ever to qualify in the Summer Games.

Sure, Magno loves the glory that comes with victory, but the 29-year-old Ilongga actually entered the world of combat sports for the sake of her family.

"Si tatay ko kasi nag-construction siya. Ang nanay ko naman sa bahay, minsan naglalabandera siya," the bantamweight fighter said on her YouTube channel.

To help her family, she joined her father in the fields to do farm work.

" 'Pag mayroong gustong magpagapas ng palay doon mga tanim nila, magtanim ng mais. Yoon po ang trabaho ko, naranasan kong lahat ng 'yan magtrabaho sa ilalim ng sikat ng araw para makatulong sa pamilya ko," she said.

Their earnings would be used to buy food so they can make it through the week.

"Makabili kami ng ulam, sardinas, noodles masaya na kami noon," said Magno. 

The Magnos lived in poverty in Janiuay town, Iloilo. Irish said her family sometimes had to sleep in shelters during typhoon season since the the roof of their shanty were full of holes. 

"Dati matutulog ka na lang nakahiga ka kita mo ang mga bituin kasi ang bubong nyo butas butas na po. Kapag umuulan bumabagyo, umaalis kayo sa bahay nyo pumupunta kami sa shelter para makasilong," she said.

She knew that something had to be done. So at the age of 16, Magno decided to lace a pair of gloves to try out boxing.

After undergoing training, Magno competed at the National Open, Youth and Women's Amateur Boxing Championship, where she lost to Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Annie Albania.

Magno later became part of the national boxing team and scored her first gold medal in the 2012 Taipei Open in Taiwan. She also won 2 silver and a bronze in 3 appearances at the Southeast Asian Games.

Through her hard work, life has become better for her family.

"Laking pasasalamat ko at nakuha ako sa Philippine boxing team, " she said. "Kasi sobrang daming nagbago sa buhay ko, starting nung nakapasok ako sa national team."

"Andyan 'yung napagtapos ko ng pagaaral yung kapatid ko at nakapasa na siya sa board exam niya po . . . Sa mga magulang ko din po nabigyan ko sila ng bahay napaayos ko ang bahay namin na dati kubo . . . ngayon kahit umulan bumagyo matibay na." 

Her biggest victory, no doubt is her Olympic qualification.

She won herself a ticket to Tokyo via a dominant victory over Tajikistan's Sumaiya Qosimova in the box-off round of the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan.

Magno has set the record for being the first Pinay boxer to qualify in the Summer Games.

Now that everything is set for her Olympic debut, the Filipina fighter asked for her countrymen's support in Tokyo. 

"Sana huwag kayong magsawang sumuporta sa amin . . . Kasi ang ginagawa namin hindi lang para sa sarili namin, para rin sa bansa natin. Para sa inyong lahat," said Magno.

For breaking news and latest developments on the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, visit https://news.abs-cbn.com/tokyo-olympics

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