DIGOS CITY , Philippines - A 14-year-old boxer from General Santos City yesterday put a positive twist on the name that has become so famous for all the wrong reasons.
Ranjo Gil Napoles, fighting on a borrowed pair of running shoes, bagged the gold medal in the junior boys 60 kg class before an enthusiastic Sunday crowd at the Digos City Gymnasium here.
Napoles, the 2013 Batang Pinoy champion, handily won the gold at the expense of Ronald Chavez Jr., son of the Filipino boxer who saw action in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
His victory powered Team Pacman to the overall championship in the PLDT-ABAP National Amateur Boxing Championships that drew 104 young boxers from around the country.
Napoles is out to follow in the footsteps of Manny Pacquiao, the eight-division world champion from General Santos City, and chief sponsor of this event.
The humble 5-foot-7 boxer smiled when asked if he was in any way related to the alleged mastermind of the multi-million-peso PDAF scam.
“Hindi po,” said Napoles, son of a government employee and now a third-year high school student.
As of presstime, Team Pacman had five gold medals under its banner, and with just a handful evening bouts left, enjoyed an insurmountable lead in the medal standings.
Other winners for Team Pacman were Gaidyl Reducto in school girls 46 kg, Jerico Sahohito in junior boys 48 kg, Jean Minguillan in junior girls 46 kg and Ryan Moreno in youth boys 46 kg.
Cagayan de Oro has three golds courtesy of Carlo Paalam in junior boys 46 kg, Angelica Dadole in junior girls 48 kg and Shera Mae Usara in junior girls 50 kg.
Bago City, which produced Olympic medalists Onyok and Roel Velasco, has two gold medalists in Mario Bautista in junior boys 52 kg and Mario Jaga in junior boys 54 kg.
Cebu, General Santos and Zamboanga have one gold each courtesy of Ceron Garces in junior boys 50 kg, Pitt Laurente in school boys 46 kg and Rennieboy Ferraren in school boys 44 kg.
The event is the culmination of a year-long, nationwide tournament supervised by the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines headed by Ricky Vargas.
From this national championships, they hope to discover and identify potential members of the national pool. On hand were ABAP coaches Pat Gaspi and Ronald Chavez.