The Unsung Hero of Omega Boxing last October.

Now let’s talk about realities. Boxing is trying to spark a comeback. Mainly for the sake of boxers and their families who rely on prizefighting for their daily subsistence.

The same can be told on the trainers, matchmakers and the countless runners of this sports – where to be able to win – one has to maim the other guy.

It’s a hurt business as they say. GAB who is the government agency in charge of all professional sports in the country, including Boxing, has lauded Omega for successfully re-starting boxing last Oct 7 in Mandaue City. Indeed, Omega resurrected boxing via a 4-fight card where all their boxers came out victorious.

Since then, SanMan of General Santos City followed suit, have held their own version of the Bubble Boxing last Nov 21.

They are poised to hold another sometime in January of 2021. Omega on its part is preparing for its 2nd and 3rd events this Dec 18, still under the current pandemic setting. It’s gonna be a 10-fight card split into two shows. One in the afternoon (matinee) and one as the main show starting at 7 PM. Still in Mandaue City, Cebu.

Now, let me zero-in on the main topic of this article. The boxing officials. We all know boxers fight because of it’s their livelihood. They have to keep on fighting to survive. The same is true with trainers and matchmakers, et al. But fortunately (or unfortunately) that is not true to the country’s professional boxing officials.

Most of them have regular careers outside boxing – office workers, bankers, engineers, architects, accountants, lawyers and even doctors. They have their full-time job/vocations that boxing to them is just to feed the personal passion for the sports. Now comes the pandemic.

Pandemic required so many new normal in the sports of boxing. New standards and protocols have become mandatory. Everybody must comply.

14-day Quarantine.

In the last Omega bubble boxing, dawned a dreaded predicament for boxing officials, specifically the Referees. That is to agree to be quarantined for 14 days – away from the family and work, alone and in isolation, monitored daily by a joint team of GAB and the DOH.

The guy who refereed the Omega event was Angelito Piquero, Jr. of Bohol. He was called in because no local referee from Cebu was available (or agreeable to the terms of the Bubble?).

The guy crossed islands to get to Cebu, knowing for a fact that Bohol at that time (and even to this day) was strict in its own quarantine protocols for incoming traffic. He obliged the call of duty from GAB all because of the “love for boxing”.

All told, the guy was isolated 14 days before (in Mandaue City) and another 14 days AFTER (in Bohol) as per respective LGU regulations. To sum up, all the days that the fellow was away was no less than 29 days (14 + 14 + 1 event day = 29 days).

And to add (this is not an exaggeration) the guy was quarantined not in a hotel or any place with hotel-like facilities, etc. but in Spartan-like quarters. In Bohol, he even stayed in a public elementary school for 14 days, not entirely alone though, as he was with mosquitos big enough to pass as houseflies.

All these for what? Certainly not about the professional fees as it was not even worthy to talk about (it is for the love of sports I did say in the beginning, right?).

Imagine the sacrifices the guy went through having to be away from his family for almost a month just to serve in that event trumpeted as the country’s boxing re-birth! Omega Boxing may be applauded for its initiatives amidst this pandemic (and deservedly so) but I say, and this with firm conviction, that event wouldn’t be possible if not for one boxing official (referee) named Lito Piquero.

A forgotten figure last Oct 7. Did the guy get applause after the event? or even a tap on the shoulder for a job well done? from the promoter? Or from the GAB? None that I know of. I would like them to give this space to Manong Lito to whom the props are also due. Manong Lito, take a vow.

We admire your dedication to the sport. I just hope the GAB will notice your sacrifices as we, your colleagues have. More power and more opportunities in the future – old normal or new normal.