Anthony Villanueva - first Filipino Olympic silver medalist - dies at 69
MANILA, Philippines - Anthony Villanueva, the Philippines' first Olympic silver medalist, died Tuesday morning at the age of 69 in his sleep in Cabuyao, Laguna, a family friend said.
Mary Grace Vida said Villanueva's wife's Liezl were trying to get an ambulance so he can have his checkup but later she received word that the former boxer passed away.
Villanueva had been unable to walk or talk since two years ago when he suffered this third heart attack, said Vida. He had been receiving a pension of P7,000 from the government and supplemented his income through a store in his home where vegetables and condiments were sold.
"He was a nice man. He became friends with my father after he found out he was a former boxer too," she said.
She did not know her neighbor was the famous boxer when broadcaster Chino Trinidad started his Pagpupugay project. A football coach, Vida was surprised to find out their neighbor was one of the country's two Olympic silver medalist.
In the 1964 Olympics, Villanueva advanced to the featherweight finals against Stanislav Stepashkin of Russia. He lost in a controversial bout that led the late broadcaster Joe Cantada to say the Philippines was robbed of a gold medal.
The toast of Philippine sports at that time, Villanueva embarked on a short professional boxing career and starred in a few movies. He went to the United States and returned to the country in 1988.
Villanueva had tough times and tried to sell his Olympic silver medal a few times but the prospective buyers refused. His silver medal is in the Philippine Sports Commission's museum.
Villanueva’s father, Jose, was an Olympic bronze medallist as a bantamweight boxer in the 1932 Olympics. - Rappler.com