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Olympic gold medal quest: ‘Suntok sa Ginto’ campaign launched

MANILA, March 8 (PNA) – Serious in its bid to win a first-ever Olympic gold medal, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) officially set in motion Tuesday its national fund-raising drive, dubbed ‘Suntok Ginto.’

The noble program is aimed at generating financial support to fund the training, equipment, and exposure, both local and international tournaments, of Filipino amateur boxers, who remain as the country’s best bets to score a breakthrough gold in the Olympics.

“We are all one in belief that amateur boxing will give us the first Olympic gold,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson.

Picson and ABAP secretary general Patrick `Pato’ Gregorio appeared in the special session of the weekly Tuesday PSA Forum at the Emerald Garden Restaurant to further expound on this ambitious, yet affable project that had its soft launching last December.

So far, the fund drive has generated P1 million from Maynilad, and P2 million more from Meralco, two giant firms under the stewardship of PLDT and Smart Telecommunications chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, who serves as chairman of the country’s governing body for boxing.

But what easily elated both ABAP officials had been the outpouring of support both from the private sector and the common people.

Picson related before the session presented by Outlast Battery, PAGCOR and Shakey’s, how in one occasion, philanthropist Cecilio Pedro, whose family owns Hapee Toothpaste, approached him and handed out a check which the Filipino entrepreneur described as ‘that’s a small amount.”

The amount turned out to be worth P1 million.

And then there’s the P200,000 worth of donations generated in one month from people from all walks of life through the different Suntok Ginto boxes and canisters spread out through the 40 branches of SM nationwide.

“We really want to reach out to more of our countrymen, especially those who have the means,” said Picson. “We are all aware that our national team boxers have never-ending needs that’s why if we pool our resources and help them, they will give our country the elusive gold medal that we’ve been hunting for decades in the Olympic Games.”

Gregorio also recounted how ABAP, recently named as the 2010 National Sports Association of the Year by the PSA, was able to collect P5,000 from those who witnessed the final day of the National Amateur Boxing Championships in Misamis Oriental, where the ‘Suntok Ginto’ project was presented.

“It came from ordinary people. It is truly inspiring for us at ABAP,” said Gregorio.
But Picson clarified that ABAP is not literally begging for financial support to provide for the needs of Filipino boxers, whom the association plans to send to at least seven to eight international tournaments this year, including the 2012 London Olympic qualifier in Azerbaijan.

“We’re not begging for alms. This only goes to prove the people’s trust and faith in our boxers’ capability to come home with a gold medal or two in the 2012 London Olympics,” said the ABAP secretary.

Boxing is so far responsible for the two silver medals the Philippines won in the Olympics courtesy of Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 Tokyo Games and Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco in the 1996 Olympiad in Atlanta.

Picson also said that BDO serves as the depository bank for donations in ‘Suntok Ginto,’ while SGV&Co. is the independent auditor of ABAP.

The project also has the endorsement of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and PLDT provided the seed funding to jumpstart the movement.

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