August 24, 2007

Manny Pacquiao-Sized Dreams

Young Boxer Fights Through Anger

By Lloyd Garcia
New America Media

I fell in love with boxing when I was just five years old. I think it all started when I saw my uncle and his friends watching a Mike Tyson fight. Being Filipino, my love for boxing is in my blood. It is a huge sport in the Philippines. Filipinos love boxing the way Thai people love Muay Thai (Thai Kickboxing).

My uncle and I are boxing fanatics. When there’s a cool fight on, we’ll watch it and talk boxing all day long. He wanted to be a boxer when he was younger, but they didn’t have boxing gyms in the Philippines back in his day. He tells me, “Man Lloyd, if I was living in America… Damn, I would be a boxer already.” But nowadays in the Philippines, there are boxing gyms. My uncle said that because people are so poor there, boxing is seen as a way to get to college – as a way to survive. But still, there aren’t that many well known Filipino boxers - – only a few like Manny Pacquiao, aka Pacman the Destroyer, or Nonito Donaire

I’ve always been an angry person. The state of the world and the people in it really upsets me. When I see people who show off, act cocky, sell drugs, join gangs – I just get mad. I’m angry at all the negative things in the world, like my father leaving my family when I was young. I used to wake up everyday and think, “Damn, there are so many young people dying for such stupid reasons.” Other people noticed my ways. My aunt often told me that she was worried that I would snap and kill someone because of my anger issues. It’s true – I began to recognize that my anger was a real problem.

I used to really like Tyson because he reminded me of me with all his anger and rage. He once said, “I want to conquer people and their souls.” Sometimes, I wanted to do the same thing. I guess I always wanted to be a boxer because I loved the sport so much, but I never knew how to go about it.

I found a boxing gym out of the blue last year. I was just walking around the park near my house and was about to go into a bathroom. Suddenly, I saw a door across from the bathroom open. I checked it out and found out it was a gym. The first time I walked through the gym, I knew I wanted to train. It was amazing.

Now after a year of training, I feel like boxing is one of the things that is helping me change into a better person. It has helped me learn how to control my anger and how to get my frustrations out through hitting a bag instead of wanting to reach for a gun.

When I walk into the gym now, I smell the sweat and see the determined faces and it inspires me. As I walk through the gym, I say to myself, “I will be like that. I want to have the hunger and determination to become a real boxer.” That determination makes me feel like I am in heaven – it makes me want to keep coming back to train harder. Now I know that boxing takes all kinds of skills: mental, heart, and discipline. I don’t have that all yet but I am working on it. Right now, I’m only good at my footwork and my jabs – but I could still be better. I know you have to keep practicing the basics in order to improve. Nowadays, instead of waking up and feeling angry, my alarm goes off at 5 in the morning and I feel happy. I walk out the door and jog. I go in the house and hit the bag, then hit the speed bag, jump rope, and shadow box.

I’m the only Filipino person in my gym. You see some black people and some white people – but mostly they’re Latino. It’s cool that there are a lot of different races in boxing. You don’t really see that in football or basketball, but you do in boxing. It’s another aspect of the sport that gives me hope for my own future.

I admit – I’m a fan of mixed martial arts, too. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has gotten so big because boxing doesn’t live up to the hype any more and there are no more Mike Tysons, no more De La Hoyas, no more Lennox Lewises. Even in the crowd-pleasing heavyweight division, mostly all the heavyweights suck now. Americans used to rule this division but now most good heavyweight boxers are Russian.

We need boxers who entertain – who do it for the glory, the passion, the love. I worry that boxing will lose more and more of its fan base and that mixed martial arts will take over. I know that someday boxing will shine again, because that has happened before. People said boxing was dead after the greats like Joe Louis and Muhammed Ali, but then Tyson came and people said he was the best boxer that ever lived. But really, I’d rather be a boxer than a UFC fighter because boxing is what I love and I’m not going to let the sport die. I think people will eventually get bored with the UFC because a lot of it ends up in submission holds, but in boxing you see more striking and knock outs.

Boxing is one of my dreams and I work towards achieving this goal every day. I would like to continue to train and then go to college and do boxing. To me, boxing is like poetry and art. There is real drama in boxing – one fight can have sadness, happiness and war. You can really throw yourself into the sport, both as a spectator and as a fighter. Right now, I will continue to train on both my physical and mental skills. The great boxer Muhammed Ali said that real champions aren’t only in the ring, but those who live with desire, happiness and dreams to succeed. I want to keep on dreaming and keep on fighting.

Lloyd Garcia, 17, is a content producer at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

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