Cucuy Elorde preserves father's boxing legacy
PARANAQUE, Philippines- Keeping a legacy alive can be achieved in several ways. In sports, successful athletes' footprints are mostly followed by their offspring through participating in the same sport. For some individuals, name continuance can be quite a burden, especially to those who fail to meet certain expectations.
For Cucuy Elorde, the youngest of boxing legend Gabriel "Flash" Elorde's 7 children, keeping the Elorde name in memory of people did not mean that she has to box professionally herself as Laila Ali did. To her, keeping the Elorde name alive is more of fulfilling and continuing her father's vision and advocacy.
Flash Elorde, a native of Bogo, Cebu, Philippines, holds the record of being the longest reigning world super featherweight champion in history, having held the title for seven years and finished with a record of (89-27-2, 33 KOs). Elorde was also the first Asian boxer to have made it to the prestigious International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Aside from Elorde's in-ring achievements, Flash also holds a reputation as a philanthropist, having built a school (St. Rita College in Parañaque) where he sent kids to learn, donated an orphanage to the Augustinian Recollect sisters and looked after many aspiring boxers.
Flash Elorde's strong will to help the needy was passed down from generation to generation. One of Elorde's grandsons, professional boxer Juan Miguel "Mig" Elorde is looked up to by street children in a nearby community as kuya (big brother). Mig would from time to time take starving children to the Elorde home and feed them.
It is through these deeds that Cucuy, a single mother of 3, attempts to keep the Elorde brand alive.
Like the former garbage collector who is now a boxing trainer, or the trainer who worked hard to become an investor in a few of the Elorde gym locations, or the several other trainers who now have their own homes or have built one in their respective provinces.
Cucuy, who owns 32 out of 46 Elorde Boxing Gym branches in the Philippines, is also a licensed manager and promoter. She admits to not having many memories of her dad as he passed away in her teenage years.
Still, she perfectly recalls the good times she had with her father and the effect of having a revered surname. "My dad was already retired when I was born but we were always at the gym playing when I was young. I learned how to box from mang Erning, one of dad's boxers," said Cucuy. "Every time they hear my last name, they would ask how I was related to the great Flash.”
Before operating her own boxing gyms, Cucuy worked at the 3 hectare Elorde Sports Complex in Parañaque that was built in 1974. The sports complex has a wide array of businesses, from a boxing gym, tennis courts, swimming pool to rental spaces. Her task was to handle collections from cockpit fights and gym operations.
Cucuy and her friends were working out one day when they realized the potential of the boxing gym business. With that, they decided to open the Gilmore branch in 2004. Today, Cucuy has right around 200 employees and 20 active professional boxers, which include her son JK Elorde, a featherweight prospect with a record of 3-0 (3 knockouts).
Unlike most other promoters/managers, Cucuy does not take a cut from her fighter's purse when they fight. Her generosity extends not only to her own people, but also to other people around her. "Cucuy always gives me a hand (financial assistance) when JK fights. She's very kind and helpful,” says her son's trainer Toto Laurente.
"We grew up that way. My parents sent so many adopted boys and girls to school. Some even live abroad now and have successful careers. We as their children are trying to do the same. I find so much happiness when some trainers change their lives for the better,” said Cucuy.
"I guess at the time he built the gym in Sucat he never thought that boxing would become a fitness craze in the future. He had such a big heart that he took in so many boys who wanted to become boxers like him but not all were fortunate to succeed. Later on these boxers became trainers.”
When asked how she thinks her dad will feel if he was still around today, Cucuy paused for a moment and replied: "My dad will be very proud and happy for me." - Rappler.com
JM Siasat is a freelance boxing journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com.