MANILA, Philippines -- Another Olympic medalist has received help from a private sponsor, as former boxer Roel Velasco was given his own franchise by a roast-chicken chain store.
Chooks-to-Go on Thursday announced that Velasco, like his younger brother Onyok, will also have his own store in recognition of the pride and honor he gave to the country.
Velasco won a bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
"What astonished me about Roel is that he is a loyal soldier to the country. Though it's been 29 years since his feat in Barcelona, his legacy continues to live on in our boxers today," said Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas.
"For years, he and his brother Boy have been identifying, grooming, and developing our boxers. And with their help, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam were able to win silver in Tokyo, while Eumir Marcial won bronze in a stacked middleweight division," he added.
Velasco admits that up to now, he still has regrets over his campaign in Barcelona where he came in as the third seed, and punched his way to the medal rounds by defeating Kenya's James Wanene, India's Rajendra Prasad, and Great Britain's Rowan Williams.
But in the semifinals, he was stopped by eventual gold medalist Rogelio Marcelo of Cuba due to a cut he sustained that forced him to settle for bronze.
"Minsan manghihinayang ka. Kung nanalo ako, ako sana 'yung nakatayo sa number one na place. Pero tuwang-tuwa pa rin ako sa natanggap ko," said Velasco, now 49 years old.
Those lessons from Barcelona continue to fuel Velasco in his role as a national team coach now, as he makes sure that he leaves no stone unturned when preparing the country's boxers for their competitions.
"Hanga ako sa mga performance ng mga boxers natin," he said. "Nakita ko 'yung sakripisyo nila para sa pamilya nila."
Earlier this week, 1988 Olympic bronze medalist Leopoldo Serantes also received a ₱100,000 monthly allowance for life from Chooks-to-Go.