By Jerrold Tomeldan
Despite being a new kid on the block, the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas (SKP) is looking forward to producing elite national athletes that will shine on the world stage.
The national association for kickboxing, now under the revived name SKP, participated for the first time in the Southeast Asian Games when the Philippines played host in 2019.
With the right strategy and mix of coaches, players and officials, the Philippine team debuted with aplomb, claiming 3 gold, 2 silver, and bronze medal, and finished next to Vietnam in the overall medal tally.
It could have been perfect timing to proliferate and introduce the sport to younger prospects but the onset of the Covid pandemic in 2020 halted the whole Philippine sporting community to a freeze.
With Covid cased dwindling and health experts able to handle the virus better this time, kickboxing is now slowly beginning to build again.
The SKP, headed by Senator Francis Tolentino as president has partnered with Team Lakay to hold the national tournament, which was dubbed Adivay Explosion 2, that featured the members of the national training pool against professional fighters as well as fresh faces.
“We are thankful that we can now begin to hold events, to provide our athletes with high-level competitions and keep themselves fit in preparation for the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games in Vietnam). At the same time, we are able to discover new prospects for the future,” said SKP secretary-general Atty. Wharton Chan, who graced the event together with SKP vice president Bing Domingo.
The main event featuring national training pool member Carlos Alvarez and former ONE Championship titlist Honorio Banario ended in a draw.
Fighting in the main undercard, the explosive national team member Jean Claude Saclag made short work of professional Mixed Martial Art fighter Crispin Rabanera from Bicol.
Saclag, gold medalist in the 2019 SEA Games, let loose a flying kick that landed on the face of Rabanera who buckled on his knees and was saved by the ring from getting down but it was enough for the referee to stop the fight in favor of Saclag for the knockout win in their 67kg catchweight bout.
Bright prospect Renato Cha Jr., of Lakay Central Gym, pulled off a unanimous decision win over national team member Karol Maguide in the 54kg matchup.
National pool member Emmanuel Cantors stopped Jerome Alidon of Kickboxing Alliance (Rizal Chapter). Another national team candidate Daryl Chulipas of UB Cardinals defeated Gamber Angcaway in a close contest.
The 62 kg contest between SEA Games silver medalist Jomar Balangui and James Daquil of the Muay Thai national team ended in the no-contest after both suffering a huge following a clash of heads in the second round.
Kervin Lampacan of Ciabel Elyu Strikers knockout Edilbert Coquia of Lakay Central Gym with punches in their 57kg bout while Estrada Dong-as, also from Lakay Central Gym, suffered a knockout loss to Kurt Lubrica of the Benguet State University.
Claudine Veloso of Lakay Central Gym eked out a majority decision win over SEA Games silver medalist Renalyn Daquel in their 52kg female catchweight match. Veloso, a former national boxing pool member, struggled in the first round bout made good use of better stamina to take the second and third rounds for the win.
The battle between two female youngsters, Zyra Bon-as of Max Fusion and Grace Carluen of Kafagway Lions Sta. Rosa proved to be exciting with the former getting the dominant win in their 50kg contest.
Wharton liked what he saw made him more optimistic about a good showing in the Vietnam SEA Games slated for May next year.
““After this event, we will send our national athletes to training and sparring abroad to make them more ready for the SEA Games in Vietnam, “added Chan, who is looking to send eight of the 12 kickboxing events to the biennial Games.
Chan, who also serves as legal counsel of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) also shared his experience as part of the Philippine delegation to the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“Whan we won the gold (courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz) in Tokyo, iba ang feeling talaga, it really made us proud as a Filipino. I look forward to kickboxing being part of the Olympics.”
A couple of months ago, kickboxing was among the newest sporting disciplines that were recognized by the executive board of the International Olympic Committee.“I hope makapasok na (kickboxing) sa (2028) Los Angeles Olympics,” added Chan.
In light of the development and with SKP doing more programs next year, more and more martial arts clubs and young enthusiasts are joining the SKP programs.