As most of you probably know, two weeks ago, a young boxer slipped into a coma after his fight and then passed away 5 days later. He suffered a hematoma or internal bleeding in his brain which was inoperable. His name was Karlo Maquinto and I had the privilege to be his conditioning coach.
Karlo was one of the finest boxers I ever got the chance to train. When I met him for the first time last September when I started working with the Shape Up gym boxers of Baguio (where Manny Pacquiao trains). You wouldn’t think that he was cut to be a boxer. He has short hands, a small frame and was not very impressive when we conducted our initial fitness tests. As we progressed though, it was clear that he was the most hard working of the bunch. Not one time did I hear him complain and he always had a smile on his face. Even when we were up to 4 tabatas with a minutes rest in between, he was still going. I think that is the legacy that this young boxer will leave behind. I went up to Baguio a week before Karlo’s fight and he was his usual cheerful self. It’s hard to imagine that it would be the last time we will train.
On most of his fights he would be down on the first few rounds but he would end up either winning or drawing at the end finishing his career unbeaten in 8 fights. It’s hard to admit, but his best attribute would also ultimately cost him his life. Karlo should’ve been known because of his skill and he was well on his way there, getting stronger every time I see him and his team mates up in Baguio. Now he will serve as a cautionary tale to kids and teenagers who think that boxing is as glamorous as Pacquao makes it look.
I’ve trained plenty of boxers over the past year, starting with Denver Cuello and then going to the boxers of the TV show Buhay Boksingero and finally the boxers of Shape Up. I’ve seen first hand how much pain and suffering our boxers go through everyday not only with their training but also with their daily lives. Karlo is one of those boxers, he fights for his family from Ilo-ilo. To give them a better life. We people here in manila see boxing as a way to get fit, or lose the fat, but most boxers get into the sport to fight their way to a better life. If you’ve seen the show before, you saw the life of these boxers and how much the sport means to them. We see the glamour of boxing especially with Pac, we should never forget the work and preparation that it takes to get there.
I never got to pay my respects to Karlo. I will forever regret that. Losing your athlete is like losing a child. A feeling I unfortunately felt twice in one month. I hope that his passing will be a source of inspiration and not of regret. Lessons need to be learned and changes need to be made (the first aid on site was atrocious). But let him be remembered as a modern-day warrior who fought for his family and died undefeated.