Thursday, March 27, 2008

shadow of the giants - golden boy espinosa back home

He should have been a Philippine boxing legend of the Flash Elorde genre, certain boxing experts have noted, instead, Philippine golden boy, Luisito Espinosa has managed to stand behind the shadow of boxing giants. In early December, the San Francisco Examiner Weekend edition published a short article on Espinosa as a soft, human interest story - a side boxing tidbit during the Mayweather-Hatton weekend fight. This week, Luis has flown back home to Manila, coincidentally (or not), at the same time that current Philippine boxing hero and legend, Manny Pacquiao returns home with his new boxing title garnered from his latest fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

An online Philippine sports news reports on Espinosa's homecoming. As a tribute to a great fighter (as well as trainer as he occasionally works with us on the mitts at 3rd Street Boxing gym), the following attempts to translate the Tagalog responses of Luisito.

Luisito on his homecoming:
"Masaya ako at nakabalik ako dito sa bansa natin. Nakakatuwa dahil nakito ko ulit yung mga tao na nakilala ko nung world champion pa ko."
I am happy to be back here in our country. I am also glad because I have seen the people that have known me since during the period when I was a world champion.

Luisito on the controversial monies owed from his last major fight in the Philippines:
"Sana mabayaran na ako kasi pinaghirapan ko din naman yun. Ang hinihingi ko lang naman ay yung kung ano ang dapat para sa akin."
I hope that I will be paid finally since I worked hard for that money. I simply ask for that which is due to me, that's all.

Liza Elorde's wife on Luisito:
"Wala nang nakakilala sa kanya nung dumating ..."
No one really recognized him when he arrived ...

Luisito's differing view from Elorde's widow:
"Nagpapasalamat ako at may nakakilala pa sa akin. Sa pakiramdam ko hindi pa din nasayang yung hirap ko para mabigyan ng karangalan ang bansa natin."
I am still grateful that there are some that recognized me. I strongly feel that I my hard work and effort was not wasted as I succeeded in bringing honor to our country.

Was Luisito hiding behind the shadow of the giant or did he attempt to juxtapose himself beside the giant? Is his homecoming an attempt to ride the wave of the current hero of Philippine boxing fans? Only Luisito would know, deep inside his heart.

Fairtex Gym

One day I noticed a Fairtex gym somewhere around Mountain View while driving en route from work to home. I've made a mental note to inquire on whether they offer boxing classes. I have been familiar with Fairtex where Muay Thai Kickboxing is concerned. Back in the early 2000s, the Fairtex gym developed a following when former Thai Kickboxing champion, Alex Gong, brought Thai Kickboxing fame into San Francisco. He was infamous among martial artists and boxers as he was a savvy entrepreneur and a skilled martial artist, well, up until his very tragic and fatal end. It was a great loss for all martial artist aficionados, a very sad and bleak day. The Fairtex story continued nevertheless and has mushroomed, albeit gradually, around the bay.

I engaged in a few email exchange with Nissa at Fairtex who unfortunately reported back that Fairtex does not currently offer boxing classes, neither in the San Francisco, nor Mountain View location. A shortage of competent instructors as well as low attendance were the main reason for possibly their management's decision to withhold pursuing boxing as a class offering. I appreciated the honest and quick response turnaround. The main focus of the gym centers around Muay Thai and other MMA related sports. I guess my quest for a Silicon Valley boxing gym continues, however, I would unhesitatingly refer folks over to Fairtex for those inclined to pursue martial arts.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Undisputed Boxing Gym

In an effort to cut my commute to half as well as create a sort of "carrot stick" to compensate for my daily sojourn from South of Market into the heart of Silicon Valley, I searched and scrambled around for an old school boxing gym. During a conversation with Ben Bautista, a reputable trainer and gym owner from SFC Boxing Gym, I asked him what were the options for a true boxing gym in the Silicon Valley and Peninsula. He recommended Undisputed Boxing Gym.

Its strategic location, at the Holly Street exit on 101, on East San Carlos Avenue and Industrial, indeed cuts my commute into half. I finally ventured into the area after work today. The class schedule indicated that there were a few boxing conditioning classes as well as a sparring class on Fridays. I was excited when I found my rock star parking right by the entrance and walked right into a huge gym facility with many punching bags and two full sized rings! I arrived during the Cardio Kickboxing class and noticed most of the students were your typical suburban folks: of the student and the rest of San Carlos suburban genre. The vibe was strange, it was like a cross between a 24 Hour Fitness and, hmm, the Peninsula! If boxing gyms were paired with a radio station, I would say that this gym is definitely a 98.1 Kiss fm, old school hiphop and overall dance music, it was quite amusing. Instead of feeling gangstah, I suddenly had the urge to get down!

I was quite disappointed to find out that the Boxing Conditioning class that I was looking forward to all day was a cross between a body conditioning and weights class mixed with some form of cardio. When I talked to the instructor, he condescendingly asked me if I wanted to "hit the bags". I stared back and simply stated, "I expected a true boxing class." He pointed me towards the rear and told me that I am more than welcome to join the fighters train.

Without hesitation, I joined the fighters train. Their fighters were not as impressive as the 3rd Street, King's Gym, SFC boxing gym and Titanium Training Center fights. I mean, I'm sure I would take my share of beating from them, after all most of the girlfighters were under 25 college students. (Though I would bet a good amount to see our prized fighter Melissa give them a run for their dollah.)

The good news is I like their pricing model! It is a week free to try out the gym for seven consecutive days. Thereafter a fast-pass option of $150.00 for a 10 class pass. I will give the gym another try for a couple more days. One guy in the "fighter's corner" told me that if I hangout long enough and "prove myself", Ed, the owner and ex-champion now-trainer, usually trains boxers one-on-one after bag-work. Fridays are unofficial sparring where Ed supervises the fighters taking a stab at each other in the ring.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

mr. unstoppable

In one of those over the coffee maker chit-chats at work, my co-worker told me about a Youtube video of various scenes of Roy Jones Jr.'s fight. He was one fast fighter with powerful left jab, left hook combinations. In watching his moves I could not help wonder whether the will has pushed this man to keep moving on, punch forward, intimidate the opponent. The mind and body becomes one as the will to survive overwhelms a person's being during moments inside the ring.

Mr. Unstoppable himself, Roy Jones Jr.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pacman Victory for the Homeland

The Ides of March in the year 2008, Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao grabbed the World Boxing Council's Superfeatherweight boxing title from incumbent, Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico based on a split decision among three veteran judges at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay. Although I planned to treat myself to the fight over the weekend, certain work-related commitments simply got in the way. A couple of days later, while nestled comfortably amidst my fluffy pillows and glued into the television screen, I enjoyed the action packed twelve rounds of close fighting match between my homeboy Pacman and Marquez. It was a gripping match so that it is inevitable that post-fight, a few naysayers and bunch of crap emerged from various camps and the rest of the boxing fans. It is what it is, and yet, majority of the Filipino people smile proudly in unision, to our Pacman and P-I-L-I-P-I-N-O boxing victory! Our politics and economy may be a mess, but we can put up a "hella" fight!

Let's checkout what Pacman has to say to the Filipino press post-fight interview.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pacman Workout Video in San Francisco