-The Philippine Star-
It was an emotional visit by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman’s wife Cristiane Manzur to the Tuloy Sa Don Bosco Streetchildren Village in Alabang last Sunday afternoon. Manzur, the WBC Cares chairperson for Mexico, broke down in tears when over 200 streetkids performed in unison Josh Groban’s song “You Raise Me Up” at the village gym. WBC female featherweight champion Jelena Mrdjenovich of Canada sat beside Manzur and she, too, was moved to tears.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Manzur who was accompanied to Tuloy by officials of the WBC and WBC Cares, WBC female world champions and guests who attended the WBC Women’s Convention and Asian Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center last weekend. GAB chairman Abraham Mitra arranged the visit with Hall of Fame referee Bruce McTavish’s wife Meng Tayag.
Fr. Rocky Evangelista briefed the visitors on the philosophy behind Tuloy and was encouraged by the visitors to replicate the initiative in countries all over the world because of its noble mission of turning the lives around of poor streetchildren by showing love and spirituality.
Aside from Mrdjenovich, other WBC female fighters who went to the village included atomweight champion Fabiana Bytyqi of the Czech Republic, supermiddleweight champion Franchon Crews Dezurn of the US, diamond superflyweight champion Raja Amasheh of Jordan, former silver superfeatherweight champion Melissa St. Vil of Haiti, former superbantamweight champion Alicia Ashley of Jamaica, unbeaten flyweight Sulem Urbina of Mexico and interim lightflyweight champion Kenia Enriquez of Mexico.
Ashley, 51, is still active in the ring and proud of her age. She’s been recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest female boxing champion. Ashley fought only last March and has a 24-12-1 record, with four KOs. During the press conference to launch the convention at the Sofitel Hotel last Friday, Urbina and Enriquez were egged by the crowd to face off. Enriquez, 25, has a 21-1 record, with nine KOs, while Urbina’s slate is 8-0, with one KO. Urbina, 28, said she’s ready to fight anyone, including Enriquez.
Mrdjenovich, 36, was named the WBC female Boxer of the Year at the Gala Dinner and Awards Night last Saturday. She was recognized by WBC female championship committee chairman Malte Muller-Michaelis of Germany and WBC Cares international chairperson Jill Diamond of New York. Mrdjenovich said her first sport was basketball but when she suffered an ACL tear, she looked at other options. Boxing was her choice and now, she reigns as the unified WBA/WBC women’s featherweight queen with a 38-10-2 record, including 19 KOs.
Former WBC superwelterweight champion Mia Rosales St. John, 51, was with the WBC contingent that visited Tuloy. A psychology graduate from California State at Northridge, she campaigned as a pro from 1997 to 2016, compiling a record of 49-14-2, with 19 KOs. She fought in the US, China, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Germany and Mexico in a career that was capped by a fourth round knockout win over Lisa Lewis in Auckland in 2016.
St. John’s most memorable fight was when she scored a win on points over Christy (The Coal Miner’s Daughter) Martin for the WBC female superwelterweight crown with Diamond as the supervisor in Friant, California, in 2012. St. John, who was featured in an 11-page pictorial in a 1999 issue of Playboy Magazine, was also moved by the Tuloy streetkids. She was assured by Fr. Rocky that in Tuloy, there is no discrimination and kids are free to come and go as they please but if they decide to stay, they must abide by the rules of the village.
The visitors distributed P100,000 worth of groceries and toiletries, footballs and sports equipment to the streetchildren. Fr. Rocky said how appropriate that he’s known as Rocky, a popular boxing name associated with legend Rocky Marciano and the Sylvester Stallone movie series. He said it’s the first time ever for Tuloy to welcome world female boxing champions whom he described as not only tough but also beautiful, inside and out.