FORMER world boxing champion Luisito Espinosa can now heave a sigh of relief even with the sports world still struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Espinosa, nicknamed "Lindol" during his long and colorful career, finally received the US$5,000 (approximately P250,000) cash grant from the World Boxing Council (WBC) under the special program of WBC head Jose Sulaiman.
The special program was launched by the WBC to provide assistance to all titleholders of any WBC world, regional, national or minor belt and non-titleholder boxers who made significant contributions for the sport.
Espinosa personally relayed the good news to Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Abraham "Baham" Mitra early this week.
As GAB chairman, Mitra was the one who worked vigorously for the inclusion of deserving Filipino boxing champions in the WBC program.
Although the financial assistance was not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, both Espinosa and Mitra welcomed the cash grant from the WBC.
"Walang boxing, walang trabaho, walang kita. Malaking tulong ito para sa amin, lalo na sa panahon ngayon," said Espinosa, who captured captured the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight crown by outpointing Manuel Medina of Mexico in Tokyo in 1995.
"Kaya nga ang laki ng pasalamat ko sa ibinigay ng WBC. Malaking tulong ito lalo na ngayong panahon ng krisis,” added Espinosa, who defended the title nine times until 1999.
Espinosa, who rose to prominence by winning the World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight title by knocking out Kaokor Galaxy of Thailand in 1989, was supposed to return to Dalian City, China where he now works as a gym instructor.
But he decided to stay at home in General Trias, Cavite due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.
Mitra clarified that the financial grant to deserving was already in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Espinosa was the third former Filipino champion to receive financial assistance thru the WBC Financial and Medical Hardship Grant.
Last January, former WBC flyweight champion Erbito Salavarria received US$10,000 (about P500,000) and WBC junior lightweight champion Rene Barientos received US $2,500 (P125,000).
Since 2018, all former Filipino boxing champions, including Espinosa, also receive a monthly allowance of P3,000 from Thai boxing patron Naris Singwangcha.
The arrangement was done also thru the efforts of Mitra and GAB, who signed the agreement with the Singwangcha Foundation last January 2018.
“Sa GAB, lagi naman kami nakahandang tumulong sa kapakanan hindi lang ng ating mga boksingero kundi iba pang mga professional athletes,” said Mitra.