While he lost in the quest for gold like the other Philippine Team athletes during the 2012 London Olympic Games, boxer Mark Anthony Barriga is still someone worth cheering for.
Now called as the ‘Little Pacquiao’ (in reference to the famous Manny Pacquiao), Barriga made waves by scoring a resounding first-round victory over Italy’s Manuel Cappai in the elimination round of the Olympic men’s boxing competition under the light-flyweight division.
As a result of the win, the 19-year-old boxer drew lots of praise from Filipino fans who saw him in person at the Westfield Mall. No less than his parents, Edgar and Merlita, witnessed the praise he attracted while they were spending quality time together just a day after his first victory.
After he lost in an extremely close battle with Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypove (17 to 16), the Philippines’ bid for Olympic gold is all gone.
Despite the loss, Barriga still carries the hopes of millions of Filipinos dreaming of glory in boxing tournaments beyond the Olympics. While details are sketchy, Barriga might still represent the nation in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Myanmar and the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea.
Who is Mark Anthony Barriga?
Mark Anthony Barriga shows-off his crystal trophy and a medallion.
Mark Anthony Barriga was born in Davao on June 11, 1993. He had his first encounter with boxing at the tender age of ten and his father encouraged him to get involved in the sport so that he can learn how to protect himself in society.
His entry into amateur boxing took a bit of time though due to his being short compared to other fighters.
“During my early days in the gym, I did not enjoy boxing,” Barriga said. “I was the smallest among all the boxers. Most of the time, my sparring partner was always bigger than me. What could you expect? I was always beaten. After months of training, I noticed that little by little, I could exchange punch by punch, body to body, toe-to-toe with my partners. That started my interest in pursuing my boxing career.”
After learning so much from his father, Barriga became an amateur boxer and progressed nicely through the ranks. He won several honors and among them were back-to-back victories in the annual Sydney Jackson Memorial Tournament in Uzbekistan. Last October, Barriga earned his Olympic berth after reaching the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Azerbaijan.The Future
While his quest for Olympic gold ended, it is expected that Barriga will be remembered and his ‘Little Pacquiao’ tag is not expected to fade away so soon. Despite the fact that no Filipino boxer made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic boxing tournament for the last sixteen years, Barriga still deserves the public’s respect.