This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of boxing’s most established professionals in the world in Nonito Donaire, an intriguing story. I looked to find out the journey of ‘Filipino Flash’ and what inspired his journey into the sport of boxing.
On a night in Inglewood, California, a young Filipino made his professional boxing debut. 18 year old Nonito Donaire stepped into the squared circle for the first time as a professional fighter, it took less than two minutes for Nonito to knock out John Lloyd Espina in the 1st round of their bout, to start what would to this day be a decorated and continuing journey as one of the most successful and established boxers in recent times.
To this present day, he was won six belts in the four major world governing body honours in the WBC, WBA, IBF & WBO. Additions to that include the coveted Ring Magazine belt and minor titles in the IBO and the rarity of winning the WBC Diamond belt, in a recognized special bout between two fighters at the top of their division.
He has won world championships in the flyweight, bantamweight, super bantamweight & featherweight divisions and was regarded as one of boxing’s pound for pound best fighters on the planet a few years ago.
As a young boy, Nonito Donaire was always told he wouldn’t be somebody, turning to the sport as an act of self defence and after suffering cases of being bullied as a kid, he found a new passion in the boxing gym – training and putting in hard graft in the gym every single day to improve his budding talent.
I asked Nonito what was the drive and motivation for him to first step into the boxing gym for the first time and lace up a pair of gloves to which he replied:
”My father wanted me to protect myself, so if anything was to happen, I would be able to protect myself properly.”
From amateur to professional success
Nonito went on a path of a successful amateur career, holding a record of 68-8 record, winning national championships, national and international junior Olympic medals.
Tonight in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he will be fighting for his sixth recognized world title out of the four governing bodies, as he faces Cesar Juarez for the WBO Super Bantamweight championship.
I asked him how pleasing was it that this world title is on the line for tonight, to which he said:
“It’s definitely an increased motivation for me because we worked really hard for this fight but mainly we really want to this win fight and now the incentive is a lot higher, we are definitely excited, we are very happy.”
Nonito Donaire once ruled the super bantamweight division, dispatching of the biggest contenders to his throne and adding more credibility to his rising worth in the sport, becoming the lineal 122 pound champion back in 2012, defeating Toshiaki Nishioka by stoppage in the 4th round.
Nonito has suffered three losses in his career to date, but one that isn’t really spoken about is the loss in his second professional fight to Rosendo Sanchez, a better part of 15 years ago.
I asked him about that loss and how it affected his career outlook going forward from it, to which he noted:
”For me it was more I didn’t want people to be sad, I didn’t want people saying you should have won the fight, you did good, I told myself I am going to work hard and go from then.”
July 7th 2007 was the night Nonito Donaire won his first world championship in boxing when he knocked Vic Darchinyan out in the 5th round with a perfectly timed left hand.
Nonito known for his incredible hand speed, superior lateral movement and prolific punching power in both hands, won the IBF world flyweight championship that night.
Reflecting on that moment, Nonito told me:
”It was a feeling that words can never ever describe, it was a feeling of happy and knowing I have accomplished something no one has, it was a moment you will never ever forget.”
Mentally in a great place
I also get the sense Nonito is now more content as a person out of the ring as well as in the ring, as he is surrounded with a beautiful family and is a real genuine man in himself.
I asked him to confirm my theory, to which he enthused:
”That’s definitely true, at the time when I was winning everything I was getting familiar with everything around me, the victory, the training level, the mentality, the things I had were taken for granted. I kept looking forward how grateful I was and blessed I was.”
“After the Walters fight I realized that I had everything and I am glad to have this opportunity again and when my second son’s birth and during my wife’s pregnancy it was a moment I thought and the doctors thought we lost her and it made me realize how blessed I was to have her and yet when I had it, I didn’t take care of it, now each day, each moment and each night I realize everything I see is beautiful and I am thankful for.”
Check out the full interview here:
(Image credit: Beatsboxingmayhem.com)
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