By Jean Malanum
Former world boxing champion Luisito Espinosa (Photo taken from World Boxing Council website)
MANILA – Former world boxing champion Luisito Espinosa is appealing to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to help him collect his prize money from a 1997 title fight held in South Cotabato province.
Espinosa defeated Carlos Rios of Argentina in that match held in Koronadal City and was claiming the balance of the US150,000 prize money allegedly owed him by the promoters. He said he only received $29,651 from that fight.
“Sana matulungan ninyo ako, wala naman akong ginawang masama. Pinagtanggol ko naman ang Pilipinas (I hope you can help me, I didn’t do anything wrong. I even defended the Philippines),” Espinosa said in an interview on GMA News on Thursday.
After his fight, Espinosa went to the United States and took various jobs. He also worked as a trainer in Hong Kong and later on moved to mainland China before deciding to come home this year.
“Down na down ako ngayon. Parang talagang tinapakan na lang ako. Parang basahan ba (I am really very down now. I felt like I was just stepped on, just like a doormat),” lamented Espinosa, who has been living with his friend John Manongsong for the past three months.
Manongsong felt sorry for Espinosa, who held the World Boxing Association bantamweight title (1989-1991) and the World Boxing Council featherweight title (1995-1999).
“Naaawa ako dahil binigyan niya tayo ng karangalan. Bilang isang Pilipino, iniisip ko na lang may utang na loob ako sa kanya (I pity him because he gave us pride. As a Filipino, I think I owe him a debt of gratitude),” Manongsong said.
Meanwhile, Espinosa said he can still mix it up atop the ring despite his problem in speaking and forgetfulness.
“Kaya ko pa. Ang katawan ko, hanggang ngayon, active pa. Malakas pa rin (I still can do it. Until now, my body is active and still strong),” said the 55-year-old boxer from Tondo, Manila.
Espinosa shot to fame in 1989 after winning the WBA bantamweight title over Khaokor Galaxy of Thailand in Bangkok. He was dethroned by Israel Contreras of Venezuela in 1991.
Espinosa fought and won over Manuel Medina of Mexico in 1995 to capture the WBC featherweight title, which he was able to defend seven times. (PNA)