|From left to right: Kevin Smith, Nolito Velasco, and Don Abnett.|
This appears on philstar.com
The Philippines gets a boxing assist by way of Australia and England
by rick olivares
RIO DE JANEIRO – With the Philippine delegation unable to sway the International Olympic Committee for requests for an additional coach in the boxing bets’ corner, the Filipinos got an unexpected assist when Australian boxing team head coach Kevin Smith offered to help out beleaguered head coach Nolito Velasco on fight day.
Smith, who hails from Liverpool, England worked for 18 years with England’s Golden Gloves ABC program as well as with Scotland and Nigeria. He was in Filipino boxer Mark Barriga’s corner during the 2012 London Olympics.
As head coach of Australia, Smith has overseen a resurgence in the Sweet Science Down Under. After Aussie boxers drew blanks during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, as well as in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, Australia brought in Smith. Smith not only increased the number of boxing workshops across Australia but his efforts paid off when they brought home two golds and one silver back from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Smith is now based in the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra alongside national development coach Don Abnett who also expressed a willingness to help out Velasco should there be a need to do so.
“I’m very familiar with the (Filipino) boxers. I know them well. They are great boxers with great chances,” said Smith, referring to Ladon, a light-flyweight, and Suarez, a lightweight, who are both first-time Olympians.
Smith said in the last World Olympic Qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan last June, he was the only Aussie coach around, and Velasco came to assist him in the corner.
With only two qualified boxers, the Philippine team was allowed only one coach. Velasco has found the help he needs.
On his part, Velasco was ecstatic about the help. “Tulungan lang,” he said.