Nesthy Petecio holds her head high despite Olympic Qualifying loss

Rick Olivares
Nesthy Petecio holds her head high despite Olympic Qualifying loss
The Davao del Sur native may not have qualified for the 2016 Olympics, but she has made lots of progress for women's boxing in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler spoke with Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio a few hours after her painful loss to India’s Mery Kom Hmangte in the quarterfinals of the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifiers at the Tangshan Sports Centre in Qian’An, China. 

The Tuban, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur native was still in pain over the loss that prevented her from securing a spot in the 2016 Rio Summer Games in August of this year. But she gamely related her story to Rappler. 

“Nung magsimula ako, hindi pa masyadong kilala si Manny Pacquiao, so yung boksing, sikat, pero hindi masyado para sa mga kababaihan,” recounted Petecio of her salad days. “Alam ko lang gusto ko mag-boksing at makapasok sa national team.” 

(“When I first got into boxing, Manny Pacquiao wasn’t a household name yet. Boxing was popular but not the women’s game. All I knew was I wanted to get better at the sport and make the national team.”) 

Second sport 

Like most Filipinos, Nesthy gravitated towards basketball and loved the sport as only a kid could. However, her father, Teodoro steered her at the tender age of 7 towards the Sweet Science. “Hindi ko gusto ang boksing dahil basketbol yung nakahiligan ko sa iskwelahan. Ang Papa ko ang naghubog sa akin sa boksing. Umiiyak pa ako sa training dahil hindi ko gusto.” 

(“I wasn’t into boxing at first because my first sport was basketball as I learned it in school. However, my father forced me to take it up. It got to the point where I would cry because I didn’t want to train.”) 

That changed when she saw her older brother and some neighbors take up the sport under her father’s tutelage. “Nung makita ko yung kuya ko at ang mga kapitbahay ko nag-eensayo kasama ni Papa ay natuwa ako. Doon magsimula yung hilig ko sa boksing. I love boxing.”

(“I had a change of heart towards the sport after I saw my father train my older brother and my neighbors. That was where I began to take it up more seriously. Now, I love boxing.”) 

“Pero,” she adds, “nagba-basketbol pa rin ako.” 

(“But, I still play basketball every chance I get.”) 

The sport has governed over two-thirds of her 23 years on this planet and her father’s vision of the sport being good for his daughter is bearing fruit.

At the age of 15, she took part in the 2007 Smart National Youth and Women’s Open Boxing Championships in Cagayan De Oro. Competing in the women’s 50-kilogram category, Petecio won the gold and was named to the national team.  She has since brought home quite a medal haul — silver medals in the 2014 World Championships and the 2011 and 2013 Southeast Asian Games; a bronze medial in the 2012 Asian Championships; and a gold medal in the 2015 Indonesia President’s Cup — in both the featherweight and bantamweight women’s divisions. 

Her prowess and success has allowed her to receive an education as she attended Rizal Technological University. 

“Sobrang layo na ng women’s boxing ngayon. Ngayon nakikilala na yung sport,” she talked of the difference from the time she came up to how the sport is viewed today. 

(“Women’s boxing has come a long way since I first started out. Now it’s popular.”)

Despite the loss, Nesthy remains confident of another opportunity to bring glory to the Philippines. 

“Sobrang ganda ng experience ko rito sa Olympic qualifying. Talo man ako, nakataas pa rin yung ulo ko at proud ako sa lahat ng laro ko.”

(“It was a great experience for me to compete in this Olympic Qualifier. Even if I lost, I held my head up high and am proud of how I fought throughout the tournament.”)

However, the 5-foot-2 Petecio couldn’t resist one last dig at the officiating that robber her of her chance to go to Rio. “Alam naman ng lahat ng nanood sa arena kung sino nanalo. Talo man ako pero hirap na hirap siya sa akin. It was a great experience na makalaban ang isa sa pinakakilala sa larangan ng women’s boxing.”

(“Everyone who was inside the arena knows who won the match. Even if I lost, my opponent had a tough time. It was a great experience for me to take on one of the biggest names in women’s boxing.”) –

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