Thu. May 23rd, 2024
This Gen Z Fil-Brit boxer is determined to clinch the PH’s first Olympic gold in boxing

| PHOTOS: Tom Welland’s Instagram / @tom_welland1

In a school cafeteria, basketball and boxing would be in the same table labeled “Most Popular Sports in the Philippines.”

The latter can prompt shared memories. Whenever there’s a huge international match with our Filipino rep in the ring, there are noticeably less people outside even on a weekend. Families, friends, and neighbors would flock into a room and begin to glue their eyes to the TV screen, cheering while on the edge of their seats in every round, until the much coveted boxing belt meets its declared owner.

Looking at our history of big names and underdog stories, it’s always exciting to see young blood making moves. And if we’re talking about that, there’s athlete Tom Welland.

Born to a British dad and a Filipino mom, Welland is an amateur boxer from England who’s been making moves that point toward history-making. At 18 years old, he’s laser-focused on a specific goal: To clinch the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal for boxing.

He started carving out his name in London

In a “Next In Line” documentary entitled “Boxing’s First Filipino Olympic Gold Medalist is from England” directed by Leo Antell, which is posted on Low Blow Studios’ YouTube channel, it was revealed that Tom Welland began his amateur boxing career in West Ham, an area in East London.

“A lot of competition at West Ham. Everyone wanted to be top dog,” he described, further revealing that it’s a “survival sink,” and if “you sank, they would chop you out. It’s quite simple.”

It’s obvious that Welland is a hard-working athlete. A short clip from the docu focuses on the young boxer narrating, “I had 10 fights in 10 weeks in three different countries all internationally.” In a joint Instagram post by Welland and boxing management company Let’s Go, he’s highlighted as a three-time national champion and a five-time international champion.

His record includes several matches in various locations like the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Ireland, as detailed in an article published in England Boxing. But his team and Welland himself think that he isn’t getting much support from England.

“I do think he’s been overlooked by England, if I’m honest,” Tom’s dad Glenn Welland confesses in the documentary. “Why has he not been looked at closer in the past?”

His coach Sab Leo took this turn of events as an avenue for opportunity—more global grounding. “Our reassurance was finding out that he lacked international experience.”

He’s part of the Philippine Olympic squad

Fast forward to him joining a Philippine team early this year. “I will be joining the Philippines Olympic squad fighting and training across the world alongside Olympians,” Welland said in an Instagram post.

In fact, the Leo Antell documentary follows the Gen Z boxer in his last days in the United Kingdom before his flight to the Philippines—before making his most risk-taker move yet.

“I wasn’t getting many opportunities out of England and they were overlooking me. The Filipinos didn’t. They gave me the opportunity,” he said.

“I grew up in Britain, this is obviously my home. I have a lot of family in the UK. But I’ve got two passports now. I’m also a Filipino citizen. I consider myself a dual nationality. I see myself as British and Filipino. I grew up eating what the Filipinos eat.”

He’s competing at the Asian Games

“I will be competing in the ASIAN games in September 2023 with an opportunity to qualify for [the] Olympics in Paris 2024. To compete against the best fighters in the world and call myself an OLYMPIAN has always been my dream and now I have a massive chance to fulfill that,” said the 18-year-old boxer on Instagram. For now, he has left his family and friends behind to try clinching his dream of taking home the Philippines’ first Olympic gold in boxing.

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Mary Welland, his mom, is part of the young boxer’s support system. “I know that he’s gonna be fulfilling what he wants to do. The sadness is I won’t be there to see it. Because we’re always there for him. We always watch what he’s doing, all of the fights that he has done,” she said in the documentary.

Our past records are dominated by José Villanueva who bagged the first bronze in boxing, followed by Leopoldo Serantes, Roel Velasco, and the most recent Eumir Marcial in Tokyo 2020. Meanwhile, silver medalists include Anthony Villanueva, Onyok Velasco, and Nesthy Petecio, who was awarded as the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal in the male-dominated sport.

Will this Fil-Brit Gen Z break the record?

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By Sandra Winters

Writer | Author | Wordsmith Passionate about crafting stories that captivate and inspire. Published author of [Book Title]. Dedicated to exploring the depths of human emotions and experiences through the power of words. Join me on this literary journey as we delve into the realms of imagination and uncover the beauty of storytelling.