Professional boxers now vegetable porters due to Covid-19

JELBIRT GOMERA at the Highland Boxing Promotion’s gym at Kilometer 6, La Trinidad, Benguet. From Jelbirt Gomera FB

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Professional boxers including one that fought in Dublin, Ireland last year are now trying to make ends meet by being porters at the Trading Post here.

“They make 350 – P1,100 a day by filling up Manila-bound trucks with vegetables,” said Highland Boxing Promotions owner Brico Santig of his four remaining boxers who now call his gym home.

Thanks to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the four boxers led by former Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation champion Jelbirt Gomera.

“Pag sinwerte tatlong loads, pero ngayon at marami na naming kargador, isa na lang (If lucky, we get three loads, but now since there are many other porters, we get one),” said Gomera, who fought Ireland’s top boxer, Ryan Burnett, last year.

“Since there are no fights since March, then our boxers, who are still with me, need to make a living,” said Santig, whose four wards live the gym early morning and come back at around five in the afternoon and call it a day.

Also working as porters now are MJ Oduna, Ador Torres and young trainer Louie Jorda, son of Brico’s most trusted and accomplished trainer/coach – Joven Jorda.

Santig said that he has come home to the Valley last August and practically gave up his office in Manila to reduce expenses with the continued lockdown. He has since then closed his Manila gym. Santig also maintains a gym in Bangkok, Thailand where his family resides.

“I had to ask all my boxers to go home. I had them plane to the Visayas or Mindanao before the enhanced community quarantine was declared in Luzon. Kahit mahal ang ticket, pikit mata na lang, kesa ma-stuck sila dito (Even if ticket cost was expensive, I had then to close my eyes than them getting stucked here),” explained Santig.

From the 28 he used to house at his four story-residence turned gym, turned office, now only four other boxers remain. Former kickboxing trainer Manny Sanidad was one of his in-house trainers prior to the latter’s demise last October due to stroke.

“I do hope that there will be a second round of help from the Singwangcha Foundation. That could help our boxers and also other fighters [muay thai, kickboxing],” added Santig, who last September distributed groceries to fighters rendered jobless due to the pandemic courtesy of the foundation.

Santig had a good year last year when he was able to use the Manila Arena for his fights and the Philippine Amusement Games Corporation as main sponsor.

He was also able to send Gomera to Ireland to fight Burnett, who earlier lost to Nonito Donaire in the World Series.

He was also named last year’s top promoter by Fightnews Asia.



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