MANILA, Philippines — There is nothing wrong with Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone getting inducted in the Boxing Hall of Fame (BHOF).
This is the opinion of renowned Filipino boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz when Stallone raised a shocker after being included in the honorable list of world boxing champions last Tuesday (Wednesday, in Manila).
"He (Stallone a.k.a. 'Rocky') kept boxing alive at the time when it was going down. He created the figure of an underdog ultimately overcoming the odds and winning the world title," Nathanielsz told Boyet Sison on ANC’s "Top Story".
Stallone was honored for his contributions to the sport through film, specifically for writing and portraying fictional boxing hero Rocky Balboa in the "Rocky" series.
The first “Rocky” film, which came out in 1976, reaped 10 Academy Awards nominations. It won best picture, best director and best film editing.
It was then followed by 5 more sequels, with the last installment released in 2006.
For Nathanielsz, Stallone embodied a role from where boxers all over the world drew inspiration from.
"The character of being able to overcome the odds--that's the story of Manny Pacquiao, that's the story of Nonito Donaire, that's the story of Gerry Peñalosa. That's the story from which Filipinos and Mexicans in particular can identify with, so he did a singular role in drawing attention to that fact. And for that alone, he deserves to be recognized," he said.
Stallone joined boxing legends Julio Cesar Chavez, Kostya Tszyu, and Mike Tyson on the distinguished list.
More deserving than Tyson
Nathanielz said that the story bound "Rocky" is even more deserving than American heavyweight champion Tyson himself, saying that the latter's inclusion is "something he would question."
"If you criticize Rocky Balboa's inclusion, you would know he helped the sport. He didn't disgrace it in some respect as Mike Tyson did," the analyst said.
He added that the members of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), who vote for the Boxing Hall of Fame inductees, should’ve been more selective.
“I think the BWAA must look at the totality of the individual— what he is like in the ring and outside the ring,” he said.
Nathanielsz further criticized Tyson, contrasting him with Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, the first Filipino boxer to be inducted in the list
“Because if you put Mike Tyson into the Hall of Fame and if you have a guy like ‘Flash’ Elorde there from the Philippines— that boxer was a gentleman par excellence so it becomes a little difficult to comprehend the inclusion of Tyson in the Hall of Fame unless it was solely based on his achievements as a fighter,” he said.
However, the analyst claimed Tyson still deserves the merit.
"But if you look at him on the basis of his achievements as a fighter per se, he should be there," he said.
Dubbed as the “Iron Mike” and "The Baddest Man on the Planet,” Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion in the late 1980s.
In 1990, his career went downhill after losing to James "Buster" Douglas.
Afterward, he was imprisoned for 3 years after being convicted of rape in 1992.
Tyson came back to regain his heavyweight crown thereafter but lost to Evander Holyfield in 1996. They fought again in 1997 when the infamous ear-biting took place.
He was reported to have had a substance-abuse problem before failing his last chance at a world title in 2002 against Lennox Lewis.
Pacman on the list?
On Filipino pugilists entering the Boxing Hall of Fame, Nathanielsz said he’s betting on Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao.
“They will include him, no question about it,” he said.
The analyst, though, believes that Pacquiao might have to retire first before getting the honor.
“He will be in the Hall of Fame, but he has to end his career before they decide to include him,” he said.
Nathanielsz also said he is currently pushing for the inclusion of another Filipino, Ceferino “Bolo Punch” Garcia, on the BHOF list.
“We're gonna keep going at it and hopefully we'll succeed,” he said.
Garcia, who held a 103-27-12 record, is the only Filipino who became a champion in the middleweight division. He also had the most victories among other boxers in the country. He died in 1981 at the age of 74.
Another Filipino who made it to the BHOF list is Francisco "Pancho Villa" Gilledo, also called “greatest Asian fighter in boxing history.” He had 92 wins, 8 losses and 4 draws. He died in 1985 at 23.