Eumir Marcial fell in love with boxing at a young age.
Eumir was seven years old when he learned how to punch for the first time. His father Eulalio was his first coach. As he honed his skills, he also competed in annual fiestas where local politicians organized amateur boxing tournaments.
“May pa-boxing ‘yung congressman sa amin dati, ‘yung ‘Golpe Golpe de Barangay.’ Pagka-piyesta na, pupunta kaming lahat diyan, nagtitimbangan,” he recalled in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
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Eumir received P300 for every win. On the other hand, he got P200 for every loss. But the amount of money didn’t matter. Every peso meant a step closer towards giving his family a better life.
“Lahat ng iyon, binibigay ko sa mga magulang ko. Pambili nila ‘yun ng bigas tapos makikita ko pagbili nila ng bigas, may kasamang gatas. ‘Yun pala, para sa akin iyon para ma-kondisyon habang nage-ensayo,” Eumir shared in a video by ONE Sports.
At an early age, Eumir had big dreams for the future. He wanted to make a name for himself in boxing, like his cousin Anthony “Rocky” Marcial. Rocky was a hard-hitting boxer and a WBO Oriental Champion from 2008 to 2010.
Eumir promised himself that he would carve his own path in boxing. He dedicated his time and energy to develop his skills. He continued competing in amateur boxing tournaments at annual fiestas. Despite his lanky frame, he defeated opponents bigger than he was.
Mahirap, pero hindi imposibleng makuha ang gold medal sa Olympics.
Eumir was eventually invited to be a junior member of the national team at the age of 14. He honed his skills under boxing veteran Roel Velasco, the older brother of Olympic silver medalist Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco.
Velasco represented the Philippines at the 1996 Summer Olympics where he clinched a silver medal. After hanging up his leather gloves, he honed the skills of boxers as a coach of the Philippine Boxing Team.
One of his prominent students includes Olympic silver medalist Nesthy Petecio.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Velasco described Eumir as a boxer with a lot of potential.
"Noong una, totoy na totoy lang 'yan, 14 years old. Maliit pa 'yun, hanggang sa bigla siyang lumaki. Pagdating sa ring parang halimaw ba. Gustong pabagsakin 'yung kalaban. Malakas na bata si Eumir," Velasco added.
Eumir’s hard work eventually paid off. He made an explosive debut by becoming the first Filipino to capture a gold medal at the International Boxing Association Junior World Championships in 2011. He was 16 years old at that time.
Eumir soon witnessed a rise in his boxing career. He won two gold medals at the 2015 and 2017 Southeast Asian Games. He also copped a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
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This was followed by a gold medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and a silver at the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
But Eumir’s breakthrough arrived when he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He won a gold medal in the middleweight semifinals in the 2020 Asia and Oceania qualifying tournament.
Itong pagkatalo ko, ito lang ang dahilan kung para lalo akong lumakas, lalo akong mag improve.
Despite this, he remained determined to make boxing history. As he gained more awards and recognition, his dreams became bigger. He wanted to win a gold medal in the Olympics.
“Mahirap, pero hindi imposibleng makuha ang gold medal sa Olympics,” he said in an interview with Olympics.com.
Of course, Eumir was not alone in his aspirations. His family supported him in his dream to bring pride to the Philippines.
When the Tokyo Olympics was postponed due to the pandemic, the boxer took it as an opportunity to hone his skills under Senator Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions where he trained in the US.
After months of training, Eumir made history as he won the Olympic bronze medal after a nail-biting match with Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine.
“Itong pagkatalo ko, ito lang ang dahilan kung para lalo akong lumakas, lalo akong mag improve.”— Paolo del Rosario (@paodelrosario) August 5, 2021
It’s a tough loss for Eumir Marcial #PHI, but he’s already using it as motivation to get better as he continues his hunt for an Olympic gold.@OneSportsPHL @CignalTV #SeeUsStronger pic.twitter.com/229Y3ad0nb
“Itong pagkatalo ko, ito lang ang dahilan kung para lalo akong lumakas, lalo akong mag improve,” he said in an interview with reporters after his match.
It was a tough loss for Eumir. Despite this, his passion for boxing remains as strong as ever. It wasn’t his match to win—but he believes that his golden dreams are far from over.
Banner and thumbnail photo from Luis Robayo/AFP