Ex-Manila mayor, PSC chair Mel Lopez; 81
Former Manila mayor and Philippine Sports Commission chair Gemiliano “Mel” Lopez Jr. died Sunday night after suffering a heart attack.
He was 81.
Lopez was a staunch critic of the Marcos regime after organizing the opposition as a Manila councilor in the 1960s. He served as Manila mayor from 1986 to 1992.
As PSC chief in 1993-1996, Lopez was credited for helping boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco capture a silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics along with his son, Manny Lopez, the former president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines.
Velasco’s silver finish was the last medal of the Philippines in the Olympics before weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who also bagged a silver medal, broke the country’s 20-year medal slump last year in Rio de Janeiro in the biggest sports gathering on the planet.
Philippine amateur boxing was at its peak during the term of Lopez, particularly in the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima where Filipino boxers saved the nation’s campaign with three gold medals and two bronzes.
After retiring from the government sports agency, Lopez left Philippine boxing to the care of son Manny, who became the first vice president of the Philippine Olympic Committee and is now representative of Manila’s first district.
Lopez was also chairman of Pacific Concrete Products Inc. and Philippine National Oil Co. apart from being one of the founding signatories of the Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) political party.
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