February 15, 2012
On February 11, 2012, in Mar Del Plata, Argentina the International Boxing Federation's (IBF) Junior Flyweight Championship was at stake. Our very own Johnriel Casimiro of Cebu, was carrying the Filipino flag together with three (3) of his handlers.
Johnriel Casimero nicknamed Quadro Alas is a native of Ormoc City, and currently resides in Mandaue, Cebu City where he trains and lives in the city's International Pharmaceutical Inc. (IPI) Gym. He used to be a national amateur boxing champion and a Palarong Pambansa medalist. He won several titles such as the Philippine Boxing Federation flyweight title, WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title and WBO light flyweight title. Casimero's boxing record would show that he has won so far 16 fights and 2 losses with 10 knockouts.
Casimiro was up to compete with Luis Alberto Lazarte of Buenos Aires, Argentina who is 19 years older than him. According to my research, Lazarte, in his 16-year, 63-fight career, has been involved in at least five (5) fights that ended in disqualification. Lazarte's history of fight disqualification was always due to his dirty tactics.
After the tenth round, Casimero won via technical knockout and even before he was declared a winner, the partisan Argentinian crowd started throwing bottled waters, debris and finally chairs, hitting, striking and aiming at the Filipino boxer and his entourage. Allow me to show you how pitiful the plight of the Filipino team was at that time. Explanation to the video:
Casimero is wearing the black and white shorts, while Lazarte is wearing red and white shorts. The handler of Casimero, is wearing the colors of the Philippine flag, and the two other Filipinos wearing red jacket. Notice the guy from the crowd wearing a green shirt and green cap who will be attacking the Philippine team.
Casimero along with his trainer Christopher Tepora and Boxing Manager and Promoter, Samson Gello-Ani suffered injuries.
Ang pagdumog ng mga supporters ni Lazarte ay lubhang nakakabahala sa imaheng maaring idulot nito sa mga mamayan ng Argentina. What they did does not exemplify the concept of sportsmanship. This in fact is a black-eye to them.
Mr. President, aside from crowd's unruly actuations, what bothers me more is the statement of the President of Argentine Boxing Commission, Mr. Osvaldo Bisbal in Argentine Daily El Clarin that "there is no one to punish for the ugly post fight riot". He said that "everything was fine" at the venue and there will be no sanctions taken against Lazarte. His reaction on the IBF's possible sanctions was "we laugh at the sanctions of the international sanctioning bodies, they have no type of authorities to do so.."
The Philippine Games and Amusements Board has already sent a letter to Mr. Bisbal, showing concern over the incident and asking for an investigation. It seems to me that this does not commensurate the gravity of the ill-treatment that the Filipino delegation had experienced. Will we settle for this kind of bullying to Filipinos? We must condemn in the strongest possible terms this attack on a Filipino sports hero and the entire Philippine delegation. Filipino boxers endure long hours of tedious physical training and they risk their lives in every fight they make. They are not just competing for themselves; they are competing for the country's honor and pride. An insult to the Filipino contingent is an insult to our country. Our government must not take it lightly; we need to address this so that the morale of our Filipino heroes would not be tainted. The Committee on Games and Amusement should look into this matter so we can protect the interest of the future Manny Pacquiaos and our national pride.
As an athlete myself, I salute Johnriel Casimiro. I consider sportsmanship a value that should be embodied in characterizing a true Filipino. We Filipinos know our power and capabilities but we use it well. We know when to fight and when to stop. As they say, most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.
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