The Morning Jog That Started It All
The year is 1985.
A Cebu City businessman just parked his truck at the start of his favorite jogging route.
He’s been jogging this route for years, although it’s not especially scenic. In fact, it leads nearby a shanty village – a mish-mash of homes pieced together with scrap wood, corrugated metal, and rubber tires. Stray dogs trot along the side of the road while school-aged children sell dusters made of rooster feathers.
The businessman begins his jog, passes the children on the street and continues on his path, like he does every day. Upon his return he finds broken glass around his truck. He has been robbed. He doesn’t look up, or talk to anybody. He just gets back in his truck and drives off.
That night he thinks about those children on the side of the road. He knows that if they continue their path, at best they’ll end up like the thugs who broke into his truck. He considers the opportunities his own children have enjoyed and wonders if, in some small way, he can help these other kids too.
The Beginning of ALA Boxing
The next morning, he returns to his regular jogging spot. He asks some of the kids, “Why aren’t you in school?” They shrug.
“If you jog with me today, I’ll buy you breakfast at Jollibee.”
From the looks of their baggy t-shirts, they could use a sturdy breakfast. They look at each other and shyly smile back at the businessman. They will join him.
The next day, the businessman returns. The children are waiting for him and they’ve brought a friend. The group grows daily and the businessman keeps his promise that he’ll buy breakfast for anyone who jogs with him. Within weeks he’s accompanied by a couple dozen children and teenagers, all eager for their breakfast.
The businessman realizes that these children aren’t just eager for a free breakfast. For the first time in their short lives, they belong to something important. He needed to do more to keep them off the streets.
He opens a boxing gym for out of school youth. Training is free, on the condition the children start and stay in school. He provides free shoes and transportation to and from the gym.
The boys begin to develop real talent. They graduate from high school and stay off the streets. Some stick around the gym to continue their training.
ALA Boxing Today
Decades later, ALA Boxing is now a full-fledged promotional boxing company that tours locally and internationally. They produce multi-titled world champions and are the only Philippine organization associated with top global promoters, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.
But when entrepreneur and philanthropist Antonio L. Aldeguer founded ALA Boxing in 1985, he wasn’t looking for attention or glory. He simply wanted to give a few kids the chance to better their lives.
Visit the training compound today, and you’ll see that philosophy stands even stronger. Located in Cebu City, it features two full-sized boxing rings, a basketball court, track oval, and professional boxing equipment. The center serves 100 children and young adults annually and provides housing for about 50.
The most talented of the bunch are plucked out and groomed for professional-level boxing. They tour throughout the Philippines and across the globe. International Featherweight Champion Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista, who got his start just like the boys on the street, still practices at the gym and mentors the youth.
In the end, everybody wins. The company profits from promotional earnings. The boxers earn prize money. Their success elevates the Philippines in the boxing world. But the biggest winners are the young boys who gain self-esteem, dignity, and hope by participating in the program. They learn tools that help them succeed outside of the boxing ring – keeping them off the streets and allowing them to build better futures.
The businessman can still be found on the training compound. Each day he shows up and watches over the boys, monitoring their form and checking in on their progress at school. They call him the Godfather of Boxing around here – but some might just call him a hero.