THE first time I saw Sir ALA in a boxing match was some 23 years ago. It was a parking lot fight in a mall, and I happened to glance at a table where he sat. It wasn’t the VIP table but there he was, lighting the gold version of a popular cigarette brand, he took on the action. I just sneaked in that time but I remembered him and his table, maybe because at that time, I too, was lighting the gold version in between engineering classes.
We had some interactions after that, but they were fleeting. Partially because I, as a football beat writer, wasn’t supposed to be in a boxing match. (That was a time when beats were respected.) The first time we had a meaningful reaction? Would you believe, he caught me smoking and as a quitter, he shared a few insights of how difficult it was for him to quit.
My most favorite thing to do during press conferences or meetings is to observe people when they don’t have the microphone or when they think no one is observing them and it struck me when, after a press con announcing their latest prodigy, his deputy asked him, “So, are you going to make him sign a contract?”
Before that, I learned so many things about Sir ALA. He was losing his New Gen ALA fighters to Johnnie-Come-Lately promoters and he didn’t seem to mind.
“Wala man gud na sila’y contract.”
“Di man kwarta iya apas ani.”
These were some of the things the veterans before me told me.
Then, one time when I got an inside scoop that a newly appointed official wanted to tap Sir ALA for amateur boxing, because he was Sir ALA, and I wanted to get his reaction, the conversation left me shaking.
Not only did he not want the position, he didn’t even want the attention. When I told him that he was being considered because of what he has done, he told me, “But I am still doing this, I don’t need the position, maybe they can give it to someone better.”
They eventually did find someone, but he definitely wasn’t better.
The ALA pro boxing stable, because of Covid 19 and the loss of ABS-CBN’s broadcast license, is no more. Someone, eventually, will fill the void it left. But for me, ALA Promotions is ALA and I don’t think we’ll find someone better.
Color me biased but I judge boxing promoters or managers with the standard that I see in Sir ALA. Heck, there were times when I see team owners, officials or even family members of officials who play the VIP card and I couldn’t help but think, “Sir ALA wouldn’t have done that.”
ALA pro boxing is no more but I hope those who’ve seen Sir ALA—especially off the limelight—do what he did best, do something for the pure love of it.