by Nick Giongco
Three decades removed from the trappings of fame, he remains a crowd darling and it was evident late Saturday night when people gathered around him that Rolando Navarette has not cease to become an attraction.
As he slowly made his way out of the venue, Navarette was met by smart-phone wielding attendees of the Elorde Boxing Awards, all anxious to have their pictures taken with the former World Boxing Council super-featherweight king.
Clad in a barong tagalog the Elorde family traditionally gives to the now 60-year-old southpaw during this time of year, Navarette gamely struck a pose with fans, beating the current crop of champions with the sheer number of admirers who flocked to him.
While the likes of reigning world champions Marlon Tapales and Jerwin Ancajas and recently relinquished Donnie Nietes and Johnriel Casimero entertained a few, Navarette was busy trying to accommodate everyone who came up to him.
Clearly, Navarette still has that aura, the x-factor that makes him the most recognizable name in Philippine pugilism outside Manny Pacquiao the last 30 years.
Navarette had a brief reign as WBC 130-lb titleholder: nine months.
Navarette captured the title in August 1982 in Viareggio, Italy, by knocking out London-based Ugandan Cornelius Boza-Edwards.
After narrowly retaining the crown against Choi Chung-Il before a raucous audience at the Rizal Memorial ballpark in January the following year, Navarette travelled to Las Vegas in May when he surrendered the title to Mexican banger Rafael ‘Bazooka’ Limon.
It was downhill afterwards as Navarette found himself in a Hawaii prison foe a rape conviction and a comeback ended when he got massacred by hot prospect William Magahin in 1991.
During his roller-coaster career that saw him fight in the undercard of the 1975 Thrilla in Manila, Navarette brought his act around the world and among those who he faced included Hall of Fame inductee Alexis Arguello during his failed first shot at the world title in 1980 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Owing to his Bohemian ways, the media christened him as the Bad Boy from Dadiangas (now General Santos City) and Navarette lived up to that billing.
But at the Manila Hotel a couple of nights ago, Navarette’s wild antics were gone and in place was a genuine smile that touched the heart.
After 30 years, the catchy Bad Boy monicker simply doesn’t do him justice any longer.