WORLD BOXING COUNCIL HONORS GMA; CONFAB UNDERWAY
MANILA, NOVEMBER 13, 2007 (STAR) President Arroyo was awarded the honorary championship belt by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for her administration’s support for the boxing community.
Mrs. Arroyo was given the large “Symbolic World Boxing Belt” by WBC president Jose Sulaiman at yesterday’s opening of the three-day celebration of the 45th anniversary of the WBC at the Manila Hotel.
Sulaiman said she was the seventh head of state who was awarded the championship belt along with the late US President Ronald Reagan, African leader Nelson Mandela and the late Pope John Paul II.
In his brief remarks, Sulaiman said the WBC plans to set up boxing schools in the Philippines.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who also spoke during the opening ceremonies, thanked all those who have been supportive of the boxing community, including Mrs. Arroyo, who he described as “a champion herself in the political arena.”
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, for his part, lauded the world boxing body in a short, prepared speech he read during the rites.
“The Filipino people is proud to see that the WBC has endured and lasted for decades. The history of the WBC will not be complete without mentioning the Philippines,” he said.
“Without the wisdom and vision of Rudy Salud, a good friend, the WBC will never be where it is today,” said Pacquiao, referring to the former PBA commissioner who was the founding WBC secretary general.
He also raised concerns over the “safety, health and future” of all professional boxers.
“I hope many things will be learned from this convention and that more voices will be heard,” he said.
Pacquiao was also scheduled to receive his own award last night, the WBC Champion Emeritus. On Thursday he will tender a dinner for all delegates and said he will spend P1.5 million for it.
Lim also commended the feat of Filipino boxers, including Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Luisito Espinosa, Gerry Peñalosa, and Pacquiao, for whom he added: “For what Manny is doing for the country, we salute you.”
“Do you know that every time our boxers fight abroad, our crime rate declines and our traffic problem eases down? This is because all we are all focused on television. Nobody would like to miss the fight so they would rather stay home and watch,” Lim said.
At least 66 flags, including the WBC banner, adorned the hotel’s Fiesta Pavilion.
Among the early-bird attendees were Pacquiao, former Filipino boxing champ Rolando Navarette; and Mexcian fighter Oscar Larios. – With reports from Paolo Romero, Abac Cordero and Evelyn Macairan
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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