Eumir Felix Marcial is a dreamer.
Marcial, who started donning a pair of leather gloves at a very young age, hope for good things for his family.
But as he started achieving success in the sport, his aspirations became bigger.
"Wala namang mayaman gustong makipagbugbugan d'yan," Marcial said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Sports U" when he was preparing for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
"Malaki lang ang pangarap namin. At 'pag laki ka sa hirap, ginagawa mo ang makakaya mo para maabot mo ang pangarap mo," added the accomplished boxer, who will compete in the middleweight division of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
He dreamt of giving his family a better life. They weren't dirt poor, but they toiled hard for their daily living.
As a boy, Marcial used to shovel sand into sacks for P100 to P150. Whenever he had free time, he tagged along with his brother, who drove a passenger jeep. He would be the one who collect fare from their passengers.
Marcial learned how to punch at age 7. His father, a former boxing coach in Zamboanga, was his first trainer.
He remembered competing in annual fiestas in Zamboanga City where local politicians sponsored amateur boxing tournaments for kids and teenagers.
"May pa-boxing 'yung (congressman) sa amin dati 'yung golpe golpe de barangay. Pagka-piyesta na pupunta kaming lahat d'yan, nagtitimbangan. Doon ako na-scout ng Team Zamboanga," said Marcial.
Despite his lanky frame, Marcial carried anvils for fists, toppling opponents bigger than he was.
"Kahit sobrang liit ko noon may nana-knockout na ako," he said.
At 14 years old, he was eventually taken in as a junior member of the national team.
Coach Roel Velasco, a bronze medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Games, remembered Marcial a boy with a growth spurt.
"Noong una, totoy na totoy lang 'yan, 14 years old. Maliit pa 'yun, hanggang sa bigla siyang lumaki. Pagdating sa ring parang halimaw ba. Gustong pabagsakin 'yung kalaban. Malakas na bata si Eumir," said Velasco.
After one year, his hard work paid off. He made a major breakthrough by becoming the first Filipino to win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Kazakhstan in 2011.
This was followed by 3 more gold medals at the 2015, 2017 and 2019 editions of the Southeast Asian Games. He also copped a bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and a silver at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Everything he earned from his national duty, rewards and all, went to his family in Zamboanga. Marcial bought a house for his parents, and sent a sibling through college. He ha also made investments, including a property in Cavite.
But the bigger victory came when he made it through the middleweight semis in the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in Jordan, securing himself a spot in the Tokyo Olympics. He later won the gold in the tournament.
He made it known that his dreams indeed have become grander. It is no longer just for his family, but also for the country. Marcial said he wants to give the Philippines the Olympic gold medal it longed for.
"'Yan ang gusto kong pangarapin, boxing history," Marcial said in a separate interview in Olympics.com.
"Mahirap, pero hindi imposibleng makuha ang gold medal sa Olympics."
When the Tokyo Olympics got delayed due to the pandemic, he took it as an opportunity to sign under Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions, which helped him train in the US and earned valuable experience by fighting as a pro.
Marcial acknowledged the road heading to his Olympic dream is long and winding. But he believes that as long as his believers back him up, he will get there.
"Alam naman natin pag Olympics medyo mahirap," said Marcial. "Pero kung nandyan ang pamilya mo, mga Pilipino sumusuporta, kaya nating makuha ang gold sa Olympics."
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