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Rey Tam under the radar for Heroes Legends mural painting

TATLO NA SILA. Gladys Labsan has almost finished three murals of legendary sports figures Hector Begeo, Jerry Dino and Erlinda Lavandia, her first female great. Pigeon Lobien

Legendary fighter Rey Tam who fought Nicaraguan great Alexis Arguello in April 29, 1978 will grace one of the 7 by 14 feet walls at the Baguio athletic bowl soon.

“I’ll just finish Erlinda Lavandia,” said artist Gladys Ann Labsan, who almost completed the former Southeast Asian Games javelin queen’s mural, but for the effects.

“Medyo nahirapan lang talaga ako kay Lavandia (I really had a difficult time making Lavandia’s face). But then when I went home, I really studied her face,” she said.

“Balikan ko yan bukas, if I find time,” added the mother of four young girls, who juggles her time with her work as online editor and writer with her kids and painting.

“I just hope Ema (her youngest at one), will be asleep so I can rush here and work,” she said jokingly.

Tam fought from 1974 until 1982 for a 36-9-1 win-loss-draw record, after starting hot with a 22-0-1 card in a four year stretch, Tam was set up against the Nicaraguan for the latter’s World Boxing Council’s super featherweight title.

Tam, however, failed to get his Visa and was allowed to fly two days before his fight. He arrived two pounds overweight and had to sweat out the excess pound.

He lost when he surrendered in the fifth round after a barrage of punches from Arguello.

From there, Tam absorbed four straight defeats including one against future world champion Rolando Navarette.

Pundits from that era said Tam was badly managed as he fought as much as nine times a year (1976).

After losing to Rudy Solis in April 21, 1979, Tam went on an eight win stretch, which ended in a split decision loss to Ryu Fukita on Octobe 28, 1980. Four months later, Tam was knocked out by Chung Il Choi which was followed with another KO loss to Dorn Sornsakdisth two months later.

But he bounced back with a win over Sandy Torroes on June 6, 1981 when the latter was disqualified. Five successive wins followed before losing to Flash Villamor on February 6, 1982 for the Philippine lightweight crown, which proved to be his last.

Tam would later train his sons as boxers with Alvin winning the Philippine Boxing Federation featherweight crown in 2012.

“I guess it will be the last for the year and the seven other walls will be populated next year,” said Labsan, who still has to contend with the walls of the dugouts which suffers from leaks and the paints chip off as a result.

Paul Rillorta of the City Sports Office (CSO) said that they will implement some improvements on the water reservoir at the back of the walls. Said area is hallowed and collects rain that should be used to flush out toilets at the CSO and later for the expansion of the big grandstand.

“The budget has already been approved and we will be putting sealants to stop water from leaking to the walls and ceilings of the dugouts.

Rillorta said that the lightings inside the dugouts will also be fixed to highlight the murals even at night.

After Tam, scheduled athletes to be painted at the walls are Divine Wally of wushu sanda, two time world taekwondo poomsae champion Jeordan Dominguez and former three time World Muay Thai king Brent Velasco.

“I guess we will also be doing some other legends like Sammy Ayochok, among others in the future,” she added.

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