CEBU CITY – Now it can be said, after nearly a month of operations, the Chao Sy Gym is now “open for business.”
Business means accessible FREE of charge to all aspiring boxers – amateur or those who are thinking to turn professional. The gym is located on the second floor of Sy Family-owned Yu Wei Tong Bldg., which is located at the corners of Escano and El Filibusterismo Streets. in Barangay Ermita, beside Freedom Park.
The gym is owned by sportsman/businessman Lorenzo “Chao” Sy. It is very spacious, it can accommodate up to 50 boxers at the same time. However, from its soft opening last May 8 until its inauguration and blessing last June 2 – the gym accepts a very minimal capacity, allowing only 10-15 boxers at a time and the minimum health protocol of IATF is strictly observed.
Fr. Jun Paradiang, SDB, who led the blessings of the gym, encouraged the aspiring boxers to do their best for the glory of God and country. The Chao Sy Gym has become the home of Cebu City public school boxers who were orphaned by the closure of the Cebu City Sports Center Boxing Gym. Some aspirants from the different schools are now sporadically joining afternoon sessions.
Along with them are basic classes for the wannabe coming from Ermita, Pasil, Suba and Sawang Calero. They were taught the rudiments of the sport by the able trainers spearheaded by former Amateur boxing standout Richard Alerre, who spent seven years in South Korea training Korean boxers, Junrel Jimenez, Ryan Illustrisimo and Roel Arivado.
The gym is a legacy of Chao Sy, who is a known boxing manager and promoter from the 70s until the time he was appointed ABAP Central Visayas Regional Director. The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) named him Regional Coordinator and consultant for boxing and has allotted a monthly budget for tournaments in Cebu and neighboring provinces. However, that was cut short by the pandemic.
During his 69th birthday last June 2, Sy again reiterated his challenge to the boxers to take advantage of the opportunity.
“The gym was my way of helping boxers. I gain nothing from this and my investments probably won’t be recovered. But that doesn’t matter; maybe I can recover what I have invested through other means. But for you, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The gym is your new home. You don’t have to pay entrance fees anymore, and nobody will stop you from using the equipment that was placed there to be used. All I am asking you is to help yourself. No one but you can help you inside the ring. Use the gym to prepare and the trainers will help you prepare,” Sy elaborated.
The special guest of the celebration held at the Hotel Fortuna sportsman/businessman Chester Cokaliong and former Bogo City mayor Junie Martinez who is also a sportsman also gave their inspirational message.
“When Chao was 17 years old he had a basketball team to serve as the marketing arm of the La Fortuna Bakery. Now, La Fortuna Bakery is an institution. He built you a boxing gym for you to use for free and he gets nothing from it. That’s how big his heart is. And you should take that opportunity for granted. Train hard and someday you will be rewarded,” Cokaliong said.
Like Cokaliong, Martinez meanwhile preached the value of loyalty to the young fighters. “I once had a stable (of boxers). But unfortunately, when they became good, they jumped to another stable that offers bigger allowances. You are young and full of energy, and use that energy to become a better boxer. However, learn also the value of loyalty, because if you are loyal you will get more blessings,” Martinez explained.
Aside from Cokaliong and Martinez, Cebu City vice mayor Michael Rama was also in attendance along with some of Sy’s fellow commissioners at the Cebu City Sports Commission – Jessica Honoridez and Francis Ramirez, and PEKAF Executive vice president Gerald Canete.
Aside from the boxing team, the Alpha Team of Doce Pares also wowed the crowd with their arnis sayaw exhibition and stunts.