World boxing champion, Gretchen ‘Chen-Chen’ Magbanua Abaniel, recently returned from a bruising match in Australia against an undefeated Thai opponent and made history as the only Filipino boxer to simultaneously hold three title belts from three different world boxing governing bodies.
But despite her accomplishments, Abaniel went home without any fanfare, without official recognition from the authorities and the country’s sports officials and worse, with no money to show for her efforts.
Abaniel, 30, who hails from Bgy. Langogan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is the current woman world champion in the 105 lbs. (minimum weight) division of the Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA), the Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) and, the Global Boxing Union (GBU).
In her last bout held last July 2 at the Club Punchbowl in New South Wales, Australia, Abaniel decked her opponent, Saowaluk ‘Picharas Superchamp’ Nareepangsri in the fourth round en route to a unanimous decision win of the ten round championship fight for the vacant WIBA title.
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Mayor Edward Hagedorn said he finds it “saddening” that despite her achievements, nobody from the country’s sports authorities took their time to recognize Abaniel, who is previously a member of the Philippine women boxing team.
“Nakalulungkot na patuloy na nakakalimutan ang kalagayan ng ating mga atleta sa kabila ng kanilang ibinibigay na mga karangalan sa ating bansa katulad ni Abaniel,” Hagedorn said, during a simple dinner he hosted for the champion in Makati City last Wednesday.