Allan Jay Tuñacao already had a boxing career in the Philippines, but the dream of making it big like boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao lured him to Sydney after a Filipino-Australian promised fights with huge prizes.
Tuñacao, who belongs to a family of boxers in Mandaue City, left for Australia in 2010, together with Jack Asis, Flash Villacora and Augusto Caesar Amonsot or “Czar Amonsot,” a Boholano who used to be with the ALA boxing stable in Cebu.
Their hopes vanished during their stay with their Sydney-based manager, Dido Bohol.
“We were made to sleep in the garage where it was very cold. We were treated like house help. They were like royalty being served. Someone did the dishes while another took care of the laundry and someone else cleaned their house,” Tuñacao said in an interview via Skype, a voice-over-IP service.
During his first fight in Australia, he received only A$600 (roughly P26,000) from the cash prize of A$3,000 (P128,000). Bohol reportedly told him that the rest of the money went to payment for his expenses during his stay.
Tuñacao said in an interview by Caro Meldrum-Hanna, which was aired on July 12 over Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) and posted on its website (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/ 2013/s3801616.htm), that he became very sick and had nosebleeds early in the morning due to the extreme cold.
He cleaned the toilets every day, he said.
Tuñacao said that when he started asking questions, his boxing manager tried sending him back to the Philippines with only A$20 (P850) in his pocket.
Three months after the Filipino boxers’ arrival in Australia, he decided to run away. He sought the help of the Australian government which issued him a special visa.
ABC also interviewed Amonsot, who confirmed that he and the other boxers were made to stay in the garage.
Amonsot also said he won A$3,500 (P150,000) in a fight but received only A$650 (P28,000) from Bohol. The manager reportedly told him the rest of the amount was used to pay for his airfare to Australia and living expenses.
Tuñacao said he and the other boxers were still preparing the cases they would file against Bohol.
Bohol’s close friend, Christopher Tempora, defended the manager, saying the boxers were treated well.
“I was there a few months ago. There were boxers in his place. Two boxers. They were doing well, I don’t think they were maltreated,” Tempora said.
Part of the deal
Bohol, in the ABC report, denied the allegations. “That’s all b—-. We have the agreement, everything here. We have to sign a contract,” he was quoted as saying.
On the issue of prize money, he said that based on the contract signed by the boxers, they would get only A$200 (P8,500).
Despite the bitter experiences of Tuñacao and Amonsot, many young Filipino boxers still want to go abroad to try their luck.
“There are a lot of opportunities abroad. A lot of world title fights,” said John Riel Casimero, International Boxing Federation champion.
A Philippine Boxing Federation champion, Virgilio Silvano, said: “I want to go abroad, I believe I will be a world champion there.”
Boxing analyst Rene Bonsubre Jr. said the aspirants just wanted to have a better career abroad for their families, not minding all possible dangers they might encounter.
Bonsubre urged boxers to learn how to value money and save their earnings. A boxer’s career may last for only a few years, he said.