SAYING he exemplifies the “excellent, persistent and consistent” athlete, the Senate unanimously adopted Resolution 84 “commending and congratulating” the country’s sole world boxing title holder Dave Mark “Doberman” Apolinario.
Apolinario scored an impressive first-round knockout of illustrious South African and three-division world champion Gideon Buthelezi last July 29 to snatch the International Boxing Organization flyweight title and fill the vacuum left by his fellow Filipino boxers who lost their world titles one after the other .
He won the fight before Buthelezi’s countrymen at the International Convention Center in East London.
All senators stood as cosponsors of the resolution first brought forward by Sports Committee Chairman Christopher “Bong” Go. He was later joined by senators who were, at one time or another, athletes—Senators Joel Villanueva, who still actively plays basketball; Pia Cayetano, former varsity volleyball player and triathlete; amateur boxer Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa and JV Ejercito.
The entire chamber subsequently cosponsored the measure.
Majority Leader Villanueva said Apolinario’s feat is made remarkable by his convincing win over Buthelezi, his persistence despite losing his luggage through five layovers on the long journey to South Africa and his consistency in winning—won many times in the Palarong Pambansa before becoming a professional boxer to age 18.
Senate President Migz Zubiri, an accomplished arnis practitioner, said he and the senators who were either products of the Palaro or were beneficiaries of similar programs will push for a more intensive and better-funded grassroots sports program.
Zubiri also pitched for the return of contact sports in the country, saying much precious time is lost for training athletes in sports where the Philippines has been winning, such as boxing, karate and arnis.
Ejercito said Apolinario deserves full recognition, noting that “he is the lone Filipino title holder [in boxing] at the moment.”
Cayetano said recognition should also be given to the role of private partners who support athletes like Apolinario, saying this form of “public-private partnership” should be properly acknowledged by government. Cayetano cited the group of Mike Pelayo, who supported Apolinario’s journey.
Apolinario, who hails from Sarangani Province, drew pride from senators who trace their roots in Mindanao, starting with Zubiri from Bukidnon and Go and De la Rosa from Davao.