MANILA, Philippines – Irish Magno was trying to ditch her housework, but never knew her rebellious antics would become the first domino of her athletic career.
That fateful after-school getaway to the town square of Janiuay in Iloilo finally instilled a love for boxing that young Magno never let go of.
Just 16 years old at the time, Magno watched in awe as he watched amateur boxers train and when that team’s coach approached, his hesitation turned to commitment.
Their engagement eventually became their ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I never imagined that I would become part of the national team just because I was trying to escape from housework,” Magno said in Filipino. “Not even in my wildest dreams would I make it to the Olympics.”
“Maybe if he hadn’t done that, he would still be in the province and would have been a farmer by now.”
Magno, at first, was not so serious in his fledgling career, but little by little he was getting into it and was even afraid to tell his parents.
The then-teenager was surprised to learn that she would compete in the National Open, Junior and Women’s Amateur Boxing Championships in Iloilo City.
It was at that event that her love for the sport blossomed after witnessing future teammates Josie Gabuco, Analisa Cruz and Annie Albania fight inside the ring.
Her admiration, however, turned to fear when she fought Albania, a gold medalist at the Southeast Asian Games, and while she was defeated, the defeat became her motivation to take boxing seriously.
Little by little, Magno pursued and became the representative of the Philippines at the SEA Games winning a bronze and two silvers from 2013 to 2019.
However, there were times when Magno was tempted to quit.
“I used to tell myself that I should quit boxing that I would quit the sport,” Magno said. “But if I go back to the province, it would go back to zero. I will have practically nothing again. “
“Instead of having the means to help my family, it would just be a burden. That is what I was thinking. So I kept going despite the difficulties because now I can help them. “
Despite falling short at the SEA Games, Magno made history when she became the first Filipino female boxer to qualify for the Olympics.
Magno defeated Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan 5-0 in the box-off round of the 2020 Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Amman, Jordan, to reach Tokyo.
That victory, however, was a redemption attempt for Magno after losing in the quarterfinals to Mary Kom of India.
“I lost to Mary Kom in the quarterfinals and I admit that I really lost faith in myself at that point,” Magno said. “But I knew I had to win my next fight to get to the Olympics, so I thought to myself and pushed myself for victory.”
“When I lost and had another chance, I told myself that I would not waste this opportunity that was given to me. They gave me another chance, so why should I waste it? I should forget about the loss and what happened was that I gave everything I had. “
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS To access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and more than 70 other titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For comments, complaints or inquiries, Contact Us.