Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Remember Lindol

The Philippines has been enjoying a stream of popularity in the boxing world, many thanks to the nation’s most popular icon, Manny Pacquiao.

But long before Pacquiao graced the ring with his brand of the Sweet Science, long before he even became famous, one man shook the boxing world with his fists.

Although not as popular and in demand as Pacquiao now is, this man, aptly nicknamed “Lindol,” meaning earthquake, garnered honor and recognition for his native land. Like Pacquiao, he laid his life on the line every time he laced his gloves and stepped inside the squared circle.

Every blow he unleashed was made heavy by his hopes and the hopes of people who believed in him. Every punch he took, he countered with perseverance that is unmistakably Filipino in its essence.

Like Pacquiao after him, this man fought against the best of his time and won most of those battles. With each hand he delivered punches and blows of seismic proportions that rendered champions helpless and stripped of their prized belts and challengers sent to dreamland long before it was bedtime.

Like any boxers, except for those exceptional few, he had his share of losses. But then, only the tough ones can go the distance against this man, and it takes tougher ones to beat him. Some even have to rely on the judges to snatch a victory over this fellow. He was that durable.

Polished skills and flair, he did not have, although he did have a bag of tricks here and there. A sneaky right cross, a stiff jab, followed by a tectonic plate-shaking straight left hand. But what he lacked in overall boxing talents, he made up with sheer grit, determination, a strong chin, and an even stronger right hand.

A proud champion he was. But like any soldier, after soldiering on for a noble cause, be it to bring honor to the Pearl of the Orient or make sure he and his loved ones have food on the plate, he faded away, or so the great General Douglas MacArthur said.

For those who saw his last fight, against a virtual unknown, he did not lose. He simply was not there. For those who did not know him, they speculate that he is a shell of the great fighter he was once. For those who knew the heart of the matter, the loss came simply because there is no reason for him to fight. Truth be told, a personal tragedy stealthily pounced on this man and ruined him, his focus, his determination, and his will. Betrayal always has its ways of breaking even the strongest of men.

No longer is this man’s named chanted by droves of fans, or even whispered inside the boxing circles. No longer is this man considered a pillar of the sport he, on many occasions, risked his life for. This man, a former boxing champion, whose name alone caused tremors running up on his opponents’ spine, faded into obscurity, merging with the shadows of nothingness like those that came before him.

This man will never be in the Boxing’s Hall of Fame, regardless of what he has achieved and the honor and glory he brought to his native land. But know that a boy who watched him pummeled opponents en route to his victories, and watched him getting pummeled in return, remembers him, remember his exploits years before. And that this boy refuses to infuse the man, that proud champion who courageously graced the sport of boxing, with some person who now packs boxes at Costco for a living.

I remember you, Lindol.


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