We are all familiar with this sad story. A poor kid from the province who hasn’t finished school takes up boxing and does well enough to earn a title shot. He wins the title and along with it, a large purse. Inexperienced with money, he celebrates like a one-day millionaire and splurges on meaningless things with instant friends.
He keeps winning but eventually father time catches up with him. He loses more fights than he wins them. After all those years risking his life on the ring, he has nothing to show for in retirement. He ends up as poor or even poorer than when he took up the sport.
We are all familiar with that story. Almost every Pinoy boxing champion in the past three decades ends up in that story.
Now, who’s to blame for that? The boxer? The manager? The promoter? The government?
Because based on Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s rationale behind his push for a new agency for boxing and martial arts, the government should act so the fight heroes of today won’t end up poor when they retire or, God-forbid, when they get hurt.
But I think he’s wearing the wrong hat for this.
Pacman the senator should be urging Pacman the boxer to ask Pacman the manager and promoter and his fellow managers and promoters—why do most of our champions end up penniless in retirement?
I mean, if they want a pension after they retire, they can have that if they allot a portion of their purse for a retirement fund. It may not be the same as those of regular workers who get deductions every payday but it’s a better discussion than, say, having a redundant agency.
But that’s it right? All this discussion on boxers’ welfare only focuses on the government and doesn’t tackle the more important thing—the duties and responsibilities of boxing promoters and managers.
Consider this. How much should a boxer give his manager from his purse? Thirty percent? How come some fighters end up getting less than 50 percent of their purse?
One time, someone in a stable told me they even charge boxers for the photocopies of their contracts—that’s how they work around that 30 percent cut.
So why not have that discussion, to protect our boxing heroes of today?
Sen. Manny Pacquiao wants to protect their interest and that’s laudable. We can do that by making sure contract and purse issues are transparent. We can do that by institutionalizing what promoters and managers can and cannot deduct from a boxers’ purse.
But then again, Sen. Pacquiao is also a boxer who manages boxers and owns a promotions company. In this discussion, what may be good for the boxer may not be good for the manager or the promotion company’s bottom line.
Unfortunately, the present discussion of a new agency only protects the promoters’ bottom line. I mean, how lucky can they be? They get to pass off the responsibility of taking care of their fighters to the government.