NATIONAL kickboxing athlete Jerry Olsim may have failed to win a medal in the recent Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, but that doesn’t stop him from giving back to his roots through his free martial arts training for poor kids in his hometown in Bokod, Benguet.
After winning a kickboxing gold medal in the Philippine Southeast Asian Games in 2019, Olsim used some of his savings from his incentives, plus some earnings from his small buy-and-sell business to start constructing a small martial arts gym during the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
Olsim, who once fought in the ONE Championship with the moniker “Bokodian Warrior”, went semi-retired and failed to defend his crown in the Vietnam edition of the biennial games in 2022.
But the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas did not give up on him, reactivated his status in the national pool and sent him to Cambodia SEA Games. But luck was not on his side again as he lost a very close decision to a Thai opponent.
Skills-wise, he knew he could defeat the Thai, who went on to become the gold medalist in their 69kg Kick Light category.
“Sayang talaga, hindi agad ako naka-move on, kasi alam ko kaya ko kalaban ko. Nagka-misunderstanding lang talaga kami ng strategy sa corner ko nu’ng final seconds kasi akala ko lamang ako. ‘Yun pala lamang ang kalaban, sana pala umatake ako ng umate nu’ng huli,” he said.
But he got encouraging words from SKP secretary-general Atty. Wharton Chan, who assured him that he will still be part of the national team.
“Move on lang. Marami pa tayong lalabanang tournaments,” Chan told him.
Olsim went back to Bokod and with the help of his sister, Jenelyn, who is also a ONE Championship campaigner, they made the gym almost complete. Most of the gear like gloves and pads came from their old supplies, while others were donated by friends.
They started with a few kids and the number is growing by the day.
“Masaya akong makapag-contribute sa aking mga kababayan, especially sa mga bata na gustong matuto ng martial arts para maka-discover din ng future national athletes,” said Olsim, who will soon prepare for the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Thailand.