From Coke as prize to aiming for Olympic gold: Carlo Paalam’s boxing journey


MANILA, Philippines—It began with a bottle of Coke.

Carlo Paalam was only a skinny nine-year-old when he chanced upon a neighbor establishing boxing workouts.

After listening to mass in Cagayan de Oro, Paalam was enticed to attempt boxing when his neighbor informed him to only spar together with his son and the winner would get a bottle of Coke.

Now, Paalam is on his solution to the Olympics for an opportunity to offer the nation an elusive gold medal.

“It was after church then once I received house I noticed my neighbor, who was a boxer, boxing and coaching his son,” stated Paalam in Filipino. “He then known as me to return over that I ought to spar together with his son.”

“I used to be scared as a result of the child was the son of a boxer and he was good. I didn’t need to spar with him however my neighbor gave me a pair of gloves and he informed me that whoever wins will get a bottle of Coke. After all, I used to be solely a nine-year-old child so I stated I’ll do it. I used to be gonna get some Coke.”

A product of a damaged household, Paalam needed to scavenge his methods to meals strolling round city to choose up bottles and plastics and commerce them in for some change.

Boxing, he noticed, gave him a method out.

P120 prize cash

Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam within the 2019 Southeast Asian Video games. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

“My neighbor noticed that I had guts contained in the ring regardless that I had blood working down my face,” stated Paalam. “Once I practice and battle, no matter prize I get I give to my mother and father.”

Paalam had his first style of organized competitors in Cagayan de Oro’s Boxing within the Park which is held each Sunday on the city plaza.

It was in these novice occasions that Paalam determined that he would ditch scavenging and deal with boxing as he might earn P120 in just some minutes as a substitute of strolling for hours for scraps.

The weekly fights additionally led nationwide staff coach Elmer Pamisa to find the younger slugger finally recruiting Paalam into this system in 2009.

“My journey began on the Boxing within the Park each Sunday and there was a P120 prize in order that’s an enormous deal for me as a result of as a substitute of scavenging for hours discovering bottles and plastic, right here I can simply have battle then I can get cash win or lose,” stated Paalam. “It was there that I used to be capable of present my expertise and coach Elmer Pamisa was capable of recruit me.”

“He was actually a dad to me, he actually took care of me.”


Paalam would then change into a bronze medalist within the 2018 Asian Video games and a gold medal winner within the 2019 Southeast Asian Video games.

His accolades within the regional and continental stage allowed him to build up sufficient factors that certified him for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the AIBA Boxing Olympic Qualifying Event was canceled attributable to COVID-19.

“I by no means stopped boxing, from the beginning I knew I needed to maintain going,” stated Paalam. “I’m grateful for the game as a result of if not for this I wouldn’t be capable of assist my household, myself, my siblings and my family.”

“Boxing is a large a part of my life and it’ll all the time remind me the place I got here from. It was due to the game that I can put on the garments I’ve solely dreamt of sporting earlier than. This actually is a blessing from God. Nothing is unattainable for anybody who desires large.”


Observe Inquirer Sports activities’ particular protection of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 right here.

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