Mark Anthony Barriga
Event: Boxing (light-flyweight division)
Born: June 11, 1993
The Philippines has an impressive record in professional boxing, with world champions like Manny Pacquaio and Nonito Donaire. However, the Philippines has never captured a gold medal since making its Olympic debut in 1924. Mark Anthony Barriga is the country’s latest hope for a gold.
The 19-year-old fighter is smaller than all other entries in the flyweight 48-kg category. But Barriga doesn’t see that as a huge disadvantage considering where he’s come from.
“I learned the sport when I was 10 years old,” he said. “My father encouraged me to go into boxing to protect myself so nobody could bully me in school or wherever I went.”
That’s more or less how it played out, though it took a while for Barriga to find himself as a fighter.
“During my early days in the gym, I did not enjoy boxing,” he 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.”
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