Even from a his sickbed up to his demise, Seoul Olympic bronze medalist Lepoldo Serantes did not show any signs of agony. He was in pain, but he remained in high spirits. His last image was of a man in complete peace.
On Wednesday morning, Serantes succumbed to a lingering pulmonary illness at the age of 59 at the Veterans Memorial Hospital.
Serantes, whose wife died in 2019, has been in and out of the hospital for several years due to a lung ailment and heart problems. Starting this January, his condition took from bad to worse as he was intubated several times.
“Hanggang sa huli, you proved that you are the best fighter. So proud of being your daughter. I love you Papa,” said Serantes’ daughter, Leodelyn, in a social media post.
Even from his sickbed, Serantes kept his social media friends updated whenever he could. Even from his sickbed, with clenched fist and while intubated, he congratulated the Tokyo Olympics medalists.
In all his travails, he was always thankful to the Philippine Sports Commission and its chairman William Ramirez for regularly providing him financial assistance for his medical needs.
Last August 15, Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas came to the aid of the retired Philippine Army 2nd Lieutenant by providing him with a monthly allowance of P100,000 for life. His daughter Leodelia received his first monthly cheque, which turned out to be the last. Chooks-to-Go, though, made a commitment to continue the monthly P100,000 allowance for the surviving immediate family of Sernates up to one year.
Chooks-to-Go though will be on hand to assist Serantes up to his final resting place.
“We’re now coordinating with the family to provide financial assistance for his burial. Their initial request is to assist them in transferring Leopoldo to Cavite,” Chooks-to-Go official Mel Macatangay told the Manila Standard.
“It deeply saddens me to know the passing of a true sports hero. The whole country is in mourning,” said Mascariñas. “We are now in coordination with his family to provide financial assistance for his burial.”
The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines, through secretary-general Ed Picson, said ABAP president Ricky Vargas expressed his condolences to the bereaved family, saying “the country will always remember Serantes for the honor and joy he brought to the country as an Olympic medalist. We are saddened by his passing.”
Serantes was one of the recent batch of 10 sports legends enshrined into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame.
Among his co-inductees were basketball player Robert Jaworski, swimmer Eric Buhain, track and field star Elma Muros-Posadas and 1988 Olympic gold medalist Arianne Cerdena of bowling.
Serantes settled for bronze following a loss to Bulgarian Ivailo Khristov in boxing’s light-flyweight semifinals of the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. He defeated three boxers from Egypt, Liberia and Morocco before losing in the semis.
It was a highly celebrated medal as it came 24 years after the Philippines grabbed a silver, courtesy of another boxer Anthony Villanueva at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Serantes was also noted for being the only gold medalist for the Philippine boxing team in the 1985 Southeast Asian Games in Bangkok, defeating hometown bet Supad Boonrowd in the men’s 48kg final. He also successfully defended his title in the 1987 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.