WOMEN’S boxing is never really a thing in the Philippines even though the boxing-mad country is a breeding ground for worldclass boxing talents, both men and women.
Filipina boxers seldom get fights locally and rely mostly on fighting overseas. The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has dwindled the options for Filipina boxers.
“It’s very hard (for female boxers), to the point that you’ll face the same opponent over again. Some will go down or move up in weight to be able to fight,” former world champion Marnelle Verano told SunStar Cebu. “We can fight overseas but rarely. It’s even harder now because of the pandemic.”
Marnelle (6-2-1, 2 KOs), her cousin Wenie Cline Verano (9-0, 7 KOs), Gretel De Paz (6-6-2, 2 KOs) and Floryvic Montero (5-8-1, 3 KOs) are trying their luck in a different sport and hopefully excel there, as of the moment, when female boxing in the Philippines is at a standstill.
The Filipina pugs are currently training and aiming for a slot in the Female Philippines National Kickboxing team for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in a tryout in Baguio City.
“My cousin Wenie and I are really just boxers. Gretel and Floryvic already have experience in Muay Thai. It’s a bit hard to connect punches and kicks. It’s hard but it’s exciting,” said Marnelle. “I just learned how to kick before we went to Baguio. We looked for a trainer to teach us basic kicks. We found an MMA fighter that helped us.”
Marnelle quit her job as a phlebotomist at the Adventist Hospital Palawan and returned her focus as a fighter for at least one more run at a world title in boxing and possibly compete in kickboxing in the SEA Games.
“After my last fight six years ago I didn’t train anymore because I found a job. Last year, I got to know Gary Connolly of VSG Team and my hopes for boxing was renewed,” she said. “I decided to join VSG Team and trained for a comeback. It just so happened that someone invited me to join the kickboxing tryouts. I asked my manager and he approved me and Wenie to join and get experience, especially when there’s nothing really happening in boxing right now particularly in females which rarely have opponents here. The pandemic makes it even harder,”
VSG Promotions is helping out Filipina fighters reach their full potential by giving them fights internationally. But because of the pandemic and strict Covid-19 protocols, the Filipina pugs are currently on standby.
Marnelle, Wenie, De Paz and Montero are part of VSG Promotions’ Time (To Inspire Motivate and Empower) Team, which pushes people to believe in themselves and their skills regardless of gender.
“I remember when I started in boxing that there was discrimination. They said boxing was a man’s sport and not for women,” said Marnelle.
Marnelle, a former Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) super flyweight champion, wants to compete in both kickboxing and boxing and be an example to other women who want to follow her path.
“I’m already 33 and already nearing retirement. But age doesn’t matter. I read somewhere that ‘You don’t stop boxing because you get old, you get old because you stop boxing.’ I agree with this.” (EKA)