MANILA, Philippines -- As he prepares for next year's Tokyo Olympics, Filipino boxer Eumir Marcial is fueled by the memory of his brother, who died just days after he arrived in the United States to train.
Marcial arrived in Los Angeles in early October to train with celebrated coach Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym, but just five days into his camp, he received the news that his older brother, Eliver, had died.
Eliver was the oldest of the Marcial's siblings. He was 39.
"Nag-offer si Sir Sean (Gibbons, president of MP Promotions) na, agad-agad, bibili kami ng ticket, uuwi ako. Pero mas pinili ko po na mag-stay dito dahil, naisip ko, ang hirap na naman ulit bumalik," Marcial said during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Rather than fly back to the Philippines, Marcial opted to stay in Los Angeles to continue training. In the process, he said he is honoring the memory of his brother, who has always supported him in his quest to win Olympic gold.
"Naririnig ko 'yung always sinasabi ng kapatid ko na, sana maging Olympic gold, sana maging world champion ka," said Marcial.
"So 'yun na lang po 'yung ginawa ko, kahit mahirap, kahit sa huling sandali po na makita ko 'yung aking kapatid ay hindi ko nagawa dahil mas pinili ko po 'yung mag-stay dito at ma-maintain po 'yung kundisyon ng katawan ko," he added.
Marcial admits that training in Los Angeles, especially early on, was difficult. He had to work on his fitness after long months of inactivity in the Philippines due to quarantine restrictions. It didn't help that he barely had time to acclimate as they plunged into action immediately after he arrived.
"Tumakbo kami kaagad sa Griffith Park," he recalled.
"Sobrang sakit ng katawan ko after noon dahil wala po akong masyadong training diyan sa Pilipinas dahil nga sa ating pandemic," he added. "Ayun, sobrang hirap ng adjustment ko."
But he powered through the exhaustion and the tough training, motivated by the memory of his brother and his family back in the Philippines.
"Sobrang sakit talaga sa akin noong nawala 'yung kapatid ko, dahil ang daming plano ko para sa kanya, lalo na ngayon, pupunta ako sa Olympics," said Marcial. "Pero ginawa ko na lang po 'yun na motivation para sa akin na lalo akong mag-pursige sa ensayo."
"Kumbaga, siyempre, darating talaga sa time sa atin na napapagod tayo, eh 'yun 'yung ginagamit ko para mag-boost 'yung energy ko para ganado po ulit ako sa training," he said.
Marcial is currently working with Roach, Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio, and strength and conditioning coach Justine Fortune in Los Angeles. He has been happy with his progress so far, and believes he is ready for his professional debut.
Gibbons, who signed Marcial to a pro contract in July, is hoping to land a four-round fight for the Filipino boxer this month. All this is meant to prepare Marcial for the Tokyo Games, where he has a chance to become the first Filipino athlete to win a gold medal in the Olympics.
"Talagang lahat po iniisip ko, ginagawa ko 'to is para sa ating bansa, para sa Pilipinas, at para po sa darating na Olympics," Marcial said. "Lahat po iniisip ko ito, para po ito sa aking pamilya, at para sa ating bansa po. Na lahat ng sakripisyo, dapat harapin ko po kasi ito 'yung pinili ko, ito 'yung ginusto ko eh."