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For 3-time Women’s World Champion Ana Julaton, the original plan when she first picked up a pair of boxing gloves in 2004 and embark on becoming a full-time boxer, was to be an Olympian and create change for women in a sport still gripped by ancient prejudices like sexism (The International Olympic Committee had denied inclusion of female boxing since 1904 when boxing was first introduced to the Olympics).
Among the 28 sports in the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing, boxing was the only one that did not include women. A startling fact at this day in age with the dawn of women’s MMA and the growing popularity of women’s boxing around the world. The cultural perceptions that still exist regarding boxing being too dangerous of a sport for women to compete in, need to be abolished unless equality isn’t truly anything more than a hypocritical plight.
All Julaton ever truly wanted was to help get Women’s boxing in the Olympic Games, compete in it, fulfill her Olympic dream and win a gold medal, then hang it up.
Interestingly, Julaton’s dream may still be within reach.
Recently, news of the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) pushing to change eligibility rules to allow pro boxers to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, garnered mixed reactions from the boxing world. Imagine the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Jr. competing in the Olympics for the Philippine flag?
Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) Executive Director Ed Picson, has not warmed up to the proposition. In an interview with ANC, Picson said, “Amateur boxing and professional boxing are worlds apart. The analogy is the punching and the parrying, but most of the rules are different.”
The Sun Star Bacolod also quoted other skeptics like National Amateur Boxing Association vice-president for South Negros Oscar ‘Dodong’ Bascon. “As of the moment, I am not in favor of this idea. This may not help sports in general and may even be detrimental. Likewise, this will discourage our amateur boxers to strive harder because, at the end of the day, it will still be the pro boxers who will be picked up to represent the country,” Bascon explained.
As far as Picson’s comments are concerned, as much as it is true that comparing Pro and Amateur boxing is similar to comparing apples and oranges, there are pro boxers who have had success in the amateur circuit, such as in Julaton’s case, that can help the country’s quest for that elusive Olympic gold.
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Other than Fil-Hawaiian boxer Brian Vioria, Julaton is probably the most decorated full-blooded Filipino Amateur boxer. She started in February of 2004, after learning how to box only two weeks prior, when she competed in the San Francisco Golden Gloves and made it to the finals and winning the silver against the #4 USA Nationally ranked 125 lb. female fighter.
Dealing with a Torn ACL in 2005, Julaton still managed to win the silver medal in the San Francisco Golden Gloves, and the Bronze in the National Golden Gloves, after having an exciting battle against then two-time reigning National Champion Melissa Roberts in the semifinals in Chicago.
In 2006, Julaton’s amateur career skyrocketed after winning the San Francisco Golden Gloves, (Click here to watch the fight video) and after winning the California State Championships and the San Francisco Diamond Belt and the National Diamond belt, which Ana finished the year defending her titles againts the #2 ranked and 5-Time National Amateur boxing Champion Teresa O’ Toole, who is one of the best boxers in Team USA at the time, Balitang America hailed Julaton as one of their Top Newsmakers for 2006.
While training for the PAL Tournament, Julaton met her current trainer, Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach, at the Wild Card Gym together with 8-Division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. Julaton was Pacquiao’s understudy while with Roach from 2007 to 2008 in each of his training camps.
After recognizing her skills and talents, Roach would advise Julaton to turn Pro. Optimistic that women would be allowed to compete in the Olympics in 2008, Julaton held back to pursue her original goal. Unfortunately, after having success becoming the highest ranking Filipina to ever win the silver medal in the USA National Tournament (which would have made her eligible for the the 2008 USA Olympic Team tryouts), the International Olympic Committee snubbed women to compete in boxing at the Olympics anew.
Julaton then heeded her trainer’s advice; turned pro in November of 2007, and fast-forward four years after, is now a three-time Women’s World Champion.
The 2012 London Olympics will be the first time women will be allowed to compete in boxing under three weight classes (flyweight / 106 lbs-112 lbs; lightweight / 123 lbs-132 lbs; and middleweight / 152 lbs-165 lbs.) with 12 boxers boxing in each division. And with rumors circulating regarding Chinese and European boxers that have fought as pros, who will still vie for a spot in the Olympics, it makes one wonder why not push for Julaton to represent the Philippines in the Olympics together with the country’s talented crop of female fighters?
The one constant with Julaton is that every time she gets knocked down, whether it’s the Olympics’ sexist denial of Women’s Boxing, or her knee surgery months before her greatest victory in beating Women’s Boxing Legend Kelsey Jeffries, or losing to Lisa Brown in her first title unification attempt back in March of 2010, Julaton always comes back stronger.
Here’s hoping that “the powers that be” would wake up, and take advantage of the opportunity of having a true and proud full-blooded Filipina World Champion like Julaton, to help the country’s cause of finally winning Gold in the Olympics.
– DG –
(CLICK HERE FOR MY LATEST INTERVIEW WITH GLEN ‘THE ROAD WARRIOR’ JOHNSON)
(Click here to listen to Kellerman’s comments on Donaire possible being better than Pacquiao ad Mayweather from his ESPN radio show)
Filipino Sports Examiner Dennis ‘dSource’ Guillermo is a freelance sports writer. You can find his articles on TV 5’s Interaksyon.com, BoxingScene.com, The SunStar newspaper in the Philippines and SportsManila.net.
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