Reynoso: We Need a PBC to Develop, Not Regulate Pro Boxing
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 16 Sep 2020
I don’t know what has happened to his earlier bill calling for the creation of a Philippine Boxing Commission or PBC but Senator Manny Pacquiao recently created a stir with another bill proposing the establishment of a Philippine Commission on Boxing and other Combat Sports.
Already the move is facing opposition from the Games and Amusement Board or GAB which is presently the agency authorized under the law to regulate boxing and other professional sports in the country including other combat sports as karate, taekwondo, muay thai and mixed martial arts.
The Philippine Muay Thai has recently came up with its position paper also opposing the legislative proposal.
The main argument against the proposal is that it will add another layer to the already burgeoning or bloated bureaucracy which means another agency that will eat into the national budget pie. Which is very untimely given the medical health emergency we are in perhaps for the next few years.
Another argument is that pro boxing and the other combat sports are so vastly different from each other that it will take a super agency or commission to oversee and regulate them with equal utmost effectiveness and efficiency.
The way things are going, it is likely that the latest initiative of Senator Pacquiao for a regulatory body or commission to govern and oversee pro boxing and other combat sports will meet the same fate as the original bill on the Philippine Boxing Commission or PBC.
Lest this writer be misconstrued, let me clarify that I have always been for a Philippine Boxing Commission or PBC.
But not as envisioned in the bill propounded by Senator Pacquiao, himself a boxer, a veteran member of a sport which he correctly define now as an industry but which he has sought to place under bureaucratic control and care through his version and vision of a Philippine Boxing Commission.
My version or vision of a PBC is that patterned after the Japanese Boxing Commission which was founded in 1950 with the goal of developing world champions or at the very least world class Japanese fighters.
Since its creation, programs and activities in professional, and even amateur boxing in Japan have been geared towards this lofty objective. It can be seen in the conception, organization and holding of year-round tournaments that are aimed at discovering talents from across the country, ranking local fighters according to their worth and merit and pitting the best fighters against each in eliminators or title fights. When fighters are ready vie for the Japanese national titles especially in the lower weights, they are usually seasoned enough to vie even for the world championship.
That is how good and well rationalized professional boxing has been in Japan since the establishment of the JBC seventy years ago. No wonder, Japan has produced the most number of world champions and world class boxers in both the men and women’s pro boxing in Asia even if it started promoting the sport nearly three decades after the Philippines.
And they never saw the need to get the sport under the full control and care of the government to regulate and develop it.
As I understand it, the JBC is run by people from the Japanese boxing industry itself under a self regulation regime where partisan or parochial interests are subordinated to the higher objective of developing world champions or at the very least globally competitive Japanese fighters.
The JBC is currently headed by former world champion and now Hall of Famer Masahiko Fighting Harada who is himself a distinguished product of the unique Japanese boxing system that strictly enforces inter-gym competitions and encourages fights among the best Japanese fighters belonging to rival gyms even at world championship level.
The JBC system of promoting and developing pro boxing is in stark contrast to the Philippine system particularly in the last thirty years which allows in house fights and frowns at all Pinoy contests at higher levels, especially world title bouts.
In Japan, the best local fighters fighting at all levels from the All Novice, the National and international champions and most especially the world championships are eagerly awaited and well supported by the fans, commercial sponsors and the various TV and cable networks.
Like the US and the UK, professional boxing in Japan is driven by domestic rivalries which are promoted by the media, particularly the TV and cable networks in which many of the top boxers are under contracts.
Philippine boxing was also driven by domestic rivalries from its advent during the times of Pancho Villa and Little Dado and Small Montana (those two fought each other a few times) through the heydays of Flash Elorde, Rene Barrientos, Pedro Adigue who fought one or the other and Erbito Salavarria and Bernabe Villacampo (versus Ric Magramo) to the more recent local fighting days of Luisito Espinosa, Gerry Penalosa and Manny Pacquiao in the 90s.
But boxing hereabouts changed with the boxers and promoters priority on getting rich or fast buck quick through overseas bouts, never mind their merit or readiness. Top fighters therefore began to avoid fighting one another and promoters became more protective of their fighters.
Thus local fans have been left to watching bouts featuring obscure local fighters with even obscure fight records or top named local fighters against mostly imported palookas who usually go down with the first hard punch that landed.
As a result, fans especially in Metro Manila and other boxing hotbeds in Luzon began to shy away from so called boxing promotions. And the little media, particularly TV support local boxing had been getting started to evaporate.
We need a Philippine Boxing Commission but not to supplant the GAB to oversee and regulate professional boxing in the country.
Under the visionary leadership of Chairman Abraham Mitra, the GAB has been doing a splendid job not only overseeing and regulating but also revitalizing and instituting needed reforms for Philippine boxing.
But Chairman Baham said he can only do so much without being accused of directly promoting boxing or interfering in its business affairs which rightfully belongs to the private sector.
GAB has been doing its part well under the scope and constraints of its legal mandate as well as its current budgetary limitations.
Obviously, it needs a partner like the Philippine Racing Commission is performing for horse racing in generating revenues for the country’s coffers.
It needs a Philippine Boxing Commission to handle the development side of local professional boxing as an industry, not necessarily to generate revenue but not also necessarily burdening the national coffers as the original PBC bill would entail.
We need a PBC to run Philippine pro boxing like the JBC has been doing in Japan.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to reboot Philippine boxing the proper way and with the proper nationalistic frame of mind.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at [email protected] and by phone 09215309477.