IN a historic night in boxing, the Philippines rolled out the red carpet to formally welcome more than 500 delegates from 17 countries to the 3rd World Boxing Council (WBC) Women’s Convention and Asian Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza last Friday.
No less than Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Abraham “Baham: Mitra led the well-wishers who treated the foreigners to a fun-filled evening showcasing the world-class Filipino hospitality
“This is really a good and memorable night in boxing, said Mitra, head of the local government body in charge of professional sports, in his welcome speech.
“I welcome all of you here in Manila in behalf of the Filipino people, who love boxing, and whose leading national sports hero, Manny Pacquiao, is a world boxing champion,” added Mitra, who left no stone unturned to ensure the success of the three-day convention being held in the country for the fourth time since 1956.
Mitra said it is the first WBC Women’s Convention to be staged outside of Mexico after the inaugural edition in Playa del Carmen in 2014 and the second in Tijuana in 2016.
“In the WBC Convention, there will be discussions on the past, present and future of the sport of boxing. The delegates will a ddress challenges, possibilities and risks and celebrate and honor the many strong and powerful men and women who have made an impact, inside and outside of the ring,” added Mitra, a former three-time lawmaker from Palawan.
WBC Cares international chairperson Jill Diamond of the US said the convention will be inclusive and interactive, setting the tone for fresh ideas and directions.
Also attending the convention are WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman’s wife Christiana Manzur, who delivered the welcome address on Saturday morning; WBC women’s championship committee chairman Malte Muller-Michaelis of Germany, WBC women’s featherweight champion Jelena Mrdjenovich of Canada, former WBC women’s superwelterweight titlist Mia St. John of the US, WBC diamond women’s superflyweight champion Raja Amasheh of Jordan and Mexican flyweight Sulem Urbina. Aside from the convention proper, Mitra has arranged a visit of WBC Cares to the Tuloy Sa Don Bosco Streetchildren Village in Alabang where more than P100,000 worth of groceries and toiletries, footballs and sports equipment will be donated by the WBC and GAB.
GAB and the Tourism Promotions Board will also provide a one-day “Tour of Corregidor” for the delegates on Monday.
This is the actually fourth time that the WBC Convention will be held in the country. Manila was the site of the WBC Convention in 1967 when two Filipinos headed the body, Justiniano Montano Jr. as president and Atty. Rodrigo Salud as secretary-general.
It was also Salud who authored the WBC Constitution and By-Laws ratified during the 1967 Convention.
Manila also hosted the WBC Convention in 1970 and 2007.
A highlight of the event is the Gala Dinner and Awards Night on Nov. 17 where OPBF president Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of Japan and WBC Asian Boxing Council and WBC Muay Thai president Gen. Khovid Bhakdibhumi of Thailand will deliver messages. Posthumous awards will also be given to Montano, Salud, Boxing Hall of Fame promoter Lope “ Papa” Sarreal, GAB chairman Luis Tabuena and former WBC champions Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Pedro Adigue. Former GAB officials Juan Ramon Guanzon, Eric Buhain, Eduardo Villanueva, Dominador Cepeda, Francisco Sumulong and Alberto Antonio will be honored with former WBC titleholders Rene Barrientos, Erbito Salavarria, Rolando “Bad Boy” Navarrete, Frank Cedeno, Luisito Espinosa, Rolando Pascua, Gerry Penalosa, Manny Pacquiao, Malcolm Tunacao, Brian Viloria, Rodel Mayol, Nonito Donaire and Sonny Boy Jaro.
Assisting Mitra in organizing the event are GAB commissioners Mario Masanguid and Eduard Trinidad and head of finance/administration Ofie Retardo.