Olympic silver ‘symbolic’ of rise from poverty, says Filipino boxer Paalam

Sports Tokyo 2020

Philippine boxer Carlo Paalam won a silver medal in the flyweight division. AFP
Philippine boxer Carlo Paalam won a silver medal in the flyweight division. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

Philippine boxer Carlo Paalam lost his Olympic boxing final on Saturday but said he still treasured his silver medal -- because the recycled metal reminded him how far he has come since his days as a scavenger.

The 23-year-old, who was vying to become the first Olympic boxing champion from the Philippines, was edged out for flyweight gold by Britain’s Galal Yafai.

But Paalam, who grew up in poverty and scavenged from a landfill site to earn money as a child, refused to be downcast.

“The silver medal symbolises what I went through because when I was a young boy, I was a scavenger and I collected junk and garbage,” he said.

“I know this medal is made out of recycled materials, and I can identify with it because it is also made from waste material and garbage.”

The 28-year-old Yafai, a former car-factory worker, had the Filipino down in the first round of the scheduled three after an incisive three-punch combination.

Paalam was always playing catch-up after that against Yafai, whose two older brothers are both professional boxers. 

That was the changing point, said Paalam, who has described himself as “a mere child of the streets”.

“If not for the knockdown, I could have made a fight of it, but credit to my opponent,” he said. “I had a gameplan to pressure him, to cut the ring off and to trap him. 

”But I got hit by a solid shot and I tried to recover. I got up and tried to make a fight of it but he had my number.“

Despite the disappointment for Paalam, the Philippines have enjoyed a breakthrough Games in the boxing ring, with Nesthy Petecio winning women’s featherweight silver and Eumir Marcial taking men’s middleweight bronze.

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Tokyo 2020 AFP