Boxing and football superstars who rose above poverty PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 July 2018 13:35

LOOKING IN

BY ROD BALBON

Two of this week’s great sporting events kept me glued to the “idiot box” watching two sport superstars playing their games for fame and giving honor to their respective countries.

We, boxing-crazy Filipinos, have seen the scintillating 7th round knockout victory of our very own Manny Pacquiao and how he demolished the Argentinian “Machine”, World Welterweight Champion Lucas Mathysse.

The victory of this prize fighter from General Santos City showed the world the great fighting spirit and determination of a Filipino. His victory brought honor and fame to our country, made us extremely proud and united us all, despite all the divisiveness and bickerings that burden and threaten our duly established government. He overcame the odds and made a very impressive and remarkable performance.

In a country controlled by only forty (40) families, Pacquiao’s life is a great success story—a floatsam who rose from the ashes of poverty and through sheer determination to become one of the boxing’s most accomplished boxer and a billionaire.

From being a street urchin doing menial jobs of selling bread and doing odd jobs, he now has all the money, fame, public adulation and admiration, and a supportive family. He climbed the ladder of success through prayers, patience, hard work, and determination. And he did all these by his own lonesome self.

He is flashy, fleet-footed, and an unorthodox hard puncher. I really love watching him fight and never get tired in reviewing films how he demolishes an opponent. I’m glad I had the opportunity of watching five of his fights live in Las Vegas.

Now an elected senator of the land, I hope Pacquiao should now consider retiring and rest on his laurels as boxing’s one and only eight (8) division champion. Age is now slowly catching on him and he should now devote his time in performing his role as a legislator.

France’s thrilling 4-2 victory over Croatia in the finals of the 2018 Soccer World Cup in Russia was also worth watching and very interesting because the team is not purely composed of French players but also migrants. Out of its 23 players, over half are of African-Arab. Its second reserve goalkeeper is the tall, charming, and self-effacing, Alphonse Arreola, who is one hundred percent Filipino, born in the Philippines and grew up in France.

But I closely watched with interest the 19-year old extraordinary French striker, Kylian Mbappé, who is now being held as the hero of the World cup. Just like Pacquiao, his life story is very inspiring. His father, also a football player, is from Cameroon and his mother is from Algeria who was a professional handball player. Mbappé was raised in the banlieu (suburb) of Bondy in Northern France, one of the poorest neighborhoods of the city having the youngest populations. As immigrants, they were heavily discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their family roots and their country of origin. Because of these, Bondy’s young people’s future was uncertain.

The local football clubs, however, nurtured and honed Mbappe talent. Through patience, grit, and determination, he developed into a football star and now, he is France’s youngest and very popular top football player. He scored and carried France to victories in the recent World Cup and has displaced Portugal’s Ronaldo, Italy’s Messi, and Brazil’s Neymar as the new and upcoming football star ready to dominate anywhere in the Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese professional soccer leagues.

His emergence from the Bondy awakened and started a revolution among the youth in other French banlieus which have now begun to be the hothouses of football talents.  Mbappé is an example of one player who rose from the ranks of poverty, coming from the poorest neighborhood, and succeeded by developing his extraordinary skills through patience, hard work, and determination.

MISCELLANEOUS: Whose hare-brained idea is this? Senior citizens and persons with disabilities riding public jeepneys plying the Canelar Moret and Airport routes to the city are complaining that the jeepneys they’re riding would only stop fronting the burned Viva Theater and they will have to walk further to the market or bazaars to buy fish and grocery items. This becomes harder and doubly taxing when it rains or when the sun burns so hot. Accordingly, after disembarking, the jeepneys they rode would further proceed downtown and take a turn near the UZ  to take passengers again.

They say that since these jeepneys will anyway proceed further to the inner part of the city, why are they being told to disembark at Viva Theater instead of allowing them to disembark near UZ? Indeed, this regulation makes no sense. Traffic at Mayor Cesar Climaco Avenue won’t turn out heavy if we allow these jeepneys to pass by a short portion of its street.

The city government should review this traffic regulation in response to these numerous complaints.