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Cagayan de Oro’s scavenger guns for gold in boxing in Tokyo Olympics



TOKYO – Decades ago in Cagayan de Oro, a very poor scavenger tried to salvage scrap metals, bottles, and all other garbage from the city residents at the city’s landfill in Upper Dagong, Carmen, just to make a living and feed the empty stomach.

Now, that scavenger is about to change his entire life into something extra-ordinary, as he is now gunning for that elusive Olympics gold in boxing in Tokyo, Japan.

Philippines’ delegate to Tokyo Olympics 2020, Carlo Paalam, has shown the whole world that he is a delta force to reckon with in boxing after he had successfully demolished boxing foes in the continuing battle for supremacy in boxing, paticipated in by the ‘best of the best’ in this contact sports.

The 23-year-old Paalam started his boxing career in Cagayan de Oro City, when incumbent City Mayor Oscar Moreno opened the doors for budding athletes in boxing.

After the young boxer was mentored by the best boxing legends as a Philippine athlete, there is much improvement on Paalam style and strategy in boxing.

Now, the young pug not only uses his agility, power and body conditioning, but he also uses smartness in mind to read the movements and maneuvers of his opponent before he executes his punching powers.    

Paalam’s two impressive victories in Tokyo in the preliminaries are enough reasons to believe that he is in for the gold. Since legendary Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco bagged a silver in Atlanta in 1996, it was no longer followed by another victories in olympic boxing history.

The new boxing sensation athlete returns to the boxing stage at Kokugikan Arena on August 3 to fight Uzbek Shakobhidin Zoirov, in this elusive search of winning another gold for the country, after the successful gold finish of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.  

“Syempre, tao lang tayo, may kaba rin,” the Cagayan de Oro trained Paalam said after his impressive win in a 5-0 round-of-16 win over Algerian veteran Mohamed Flissi, “pero meron rin tayo tiwala sa sarili at coaches ko.”


His coach, Elmer Paasa, a former professional boxer in his prime turned coach, was very happy on the determination of his boxer. Pamisa also hails from barangay Carmen in Cagayan de Oro.

The coach said Paalam was a son of bakery helper, and he always went around looking for discarded items that could provide him a few bucks.

“Nakita ko ‘yan, nangangalakal, namumulot ng basura sa amin, binebenta,” said Pamisa, who is also a decorated boxer who snatched a pair of silvers from the Southeast Asian Games during his prime, adding that” “Sabi ko, ‘Mag-boksing ka na lang, baka dito ka pa aasenso.”

The motivation of Pamisa made Paalam joined boxing bouts in the city’s old amphitheater sponsored by Mayor Oscar Moreno – where the winner takes a measely P200 pesos and the loser P150.


Paalam’s notable strength in those bouts at the amphitheater were all seen and witnessed by his coach and the young boxer was introduced in the city’s youth boxing team.

However, when Coach Pamisa had competition overseas and he was away from coaching and motivating Paalam, there were misunderstanding and the young boxer was kicked out from the city’s boxing team, that also forced him to go back to scanvenging

“Pagbalik ko galing Armenia, [nadatnan ko] si Carlo tumigil sa pagbo-boksing, pinalayas s’ya sa team,” Pamisa said. “Hinanap ko s’ya, nakita ko na naman, nandun sa basketbolan, naghahanap ng basura. Sabi ko, ‘Bakit ka umalis? Balik ka, ako ang bahala, isugal ko reputasyon ko kasi nakikita ko sa iyo na malaki ang tsansa mo [na umasenso].’ Iyak s’ya, ang sabi sa akin, ‘Akala ko di na ako makakabalik.'”

So when his coach was again focused on Paalam as a full time coach for free, the young boxer then succeeded in creating his name for bagging the golds both in Batang Pinoy and the Philippine National Games. These events were the defining moments of Paalam’s much bigger career in boxing as he was called up by the Alliance of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) that also led him to the ‘National Boxing Team’ of the country.

Since Paalam became an official athlete of the Philippines in boxing, he has won bronze medals in the 2016 AIBA Youth Asian World Championships. He also snatched a gold medal during the 2018 Asian Games   

National Team Coach Ronald Chavez has this to say about Paalam’s rise in the flyweight ranks: “Magaling makinig kaya madaling gumaling.”

Joel Escol
Joel Escolhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK_sKdGFs0ewIh9R-iAskDg
Joel Calamba Escol is a journalist in the Philippines for more than 20 years. Currently, he is the Managing Editor of Mindanao Daily News, the biggest and most-widely read newspaper in Southern Philippines. He is also known as Noypi Vlogger in Youtube. You can follow him on the following social networking sites below.
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