Nesthy Petecio: The boxer who was told, "Wag ka diyan, babae ka"

by spin.ph staff for Spin.ph
Jul 30, 2021
Pinay Olympic medalist Nesthy Petecio: "Dahil sa boxing, dito nagkaroon ng kabuluhan ang buhay ko para lumaban hanggang marating ko ang kung saan ko gusto."
PHOTO/S: spin.ph

With Nesthy Petecio assured of at least a bronze in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it's high time we took a look back at her colorful career.

She has had her share of hurdles, and overcame them with grit and tenacity.

Her accomplished boxing record glows with medals she has earned in podiums all over the world.

Here's everything you need to know about Nesthy Petecio.

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Early life and career of Nesthy Petecio

Nesthy Petecio was born in 1991 and grew up in Bago Gallera, Davao City.

She said in a recent interview that she started training hard when she was 11 years old. Her first competition? Araw ng Dabaw bout.

She said in Bisaya when she was interviewed for a TrueID documentary short, her first opponent on the ring was a man.

Nesthy described what it was like, "Not to brag, but I felt no fear. I was more excited. I wanted to show them that women can keep up with men."

She has always been boyish, even from a young age. She liked playing basketball, and dabbled a little in athletics, but soon was taken in completely by the sweet science.

Her father, Nestor, while a boxing coach himself, was initially against her taking up the sport.

He said in a 2021 interview with ABS-CBN's Jeff Canoy, "Pinapagalitan ko, pinapaalis ko. Wag ka diyan, babae ka, hindi para sa iyo iyan."

But his daughter Nesthy would not be fazed.

She said in the TrueID docu, "Dahil sa boxing, dito nagkaroon ng kabuluhan ang buhay ko para lumaban hanggang marating ko ang kung saan ko gusto."

Her victory in that Araw ng Dabaw competition soon led her to1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medalist Roel Velasco, who became an early mentor.

At just 15 years old, she won gold at the 2007 Philippine National Games, and then joined the national team.

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Racking up the international wins

Her first international podium came in the 2011 SEA Games, where she clinched silver in the bantamweight division.

Two years later, she delivered again with another silver in the Myanmar edition of the regional meet; this time, as a featherweight.

Nesthy said in an interview with SPIN.ph in 2015 she could have gotten the gold in the event were it not for the biased homecourt judging, which awarded the top spot to her Burmese foe.

A quick flurry of metal burnished the young boxer's resume: a silver medal in the 2014 World Championships in Jeju; a gold in the President's Cup in Jakarta in 2015; one more silver in the 2015 ASBC Women's Boxing Championships in China, and yet another silver in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games (this time, back as a bantamweight).

However, in a qualifier tournament for the 2016 Rio Olympics, she suffered an early exit in Morocco against home bet Zohra Ez Zahraoui.

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Two years later, Nesthy started the year strong with rousing first-place finishes in the Feliks Stamm Boxing Tournament in Warsaw as well as in the 2nd Kapolri Cup Boxing International Open Tournament in Indonesia.

But another early exit in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta proved to be one of the most devastating blows to her career.

Ed Picson slammed her loss via split decision against China's Yin Junhua as a "travesty."

According to Picson, the secretary-general of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines, "We all saw what happened. It's just so sad that at a time when boxing is fighting hard to retain its spot in the Olympics, something like this happens. It's heartbreaking."

It was heartbreaking for Nesthy, too.

She said in a press conference in 2019. "Sinabi ko sa sarili ko, baka hindi para sa akin yung boxing.

"Nag-gold ako ng apat na sunod-sunod para i-prepare ko yung sarili ko sa Asian Games 'tapos ganun na nangyari."

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In an interview with podcast Go Hard Girls, Nesthy revealed she suffered depression for seven months and all she wanted was to quit.

"After po talaga nun, sobrang na-down ako nun. Naka-graduate na rin naman ako ng associate course sa University of Baguio. Kaya ko naman mag-work.""

In the aftermath of Asiad, a return to glory

A year later, she returned to the sport, and made a decisive statement with a gold in the Thailand Open International Boxing Championship.

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Then, Nesthy became a true world champion in the Aiba World Women's Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, beating hometown bet Liudmila Vorontsove.

Her win came just 24 hours after the victory of another future Olympian: Carlos Yulo, who won first place at the 41st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Germany.

It was a rousing one-two punch for Philippine sports, and the Philippine Sports Commission and the MVP Sports Foundation rewarded the two athletes accordingly, granting them an incentive of PHP2 million each.

In December, Nesthy stood shoulder-to-shoulder with one of boxing's undeniable greats, Manny Pacquiao, as the two pugilists lit the cauldron in New Clark City to kick off the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

It was in this edition of the regional meet that Petecio finally got over her SEA Games silver slump.

The scrappy fighter clinched her first SEAG gold, pummeling Oo New Ni of Myanmar for a victory via unanimous decision.

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On to the Olympics

Her victory was enough for ABS-CBN to greenlight a Maalala Mo Kaya episode on her life. She was played by rising star Jane De Leon.

Before the global lockdowns hit on March 2020, Nesthy Petecio lost to Japan's Sena Irie in the quarterfinals of the Asia and Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan on March 9.

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The pandemic proved to be both a bane and a blessing to Nesthy.

Stranded in Baguio when the lockdowns descended soon after she flew back home, she missed the sport dearly as she was forced to stay at home and work on her mitts.

When general community quarantine was finally granted to Baguio, she happily told SPIN.ph, "Hirap mag-training dahil ang daming bawal. Sobrang excited po ako makapag-training."

But the pandemic also served, in its own way, to boost Nesthy's career. Because of the left-and-right cancellations of the Olympic qualifiers, she was able to book her ticket to Tokyo on the strength of her world ranking alone, which stood at world number two in September 2020.

On March 19 of this year, the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force made her qualification official.

And so the journey that was cut short back in the Rio games has finally led this defiant young woman to Tokyo.

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Pinay Olympic medalist Nesthy Petecio: "Dahil sa boxing, dito nagkaroon ng kabuluhan ang buhay ko para lumaban hanggang marating ko ang kung saan ko gusto."
PHOTO/S: spin.ph
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