Leopoldo Serantes: A Filipino Boxing Legend

Leopoldo Serantes, born on March 15, 1962, in the Philippines, is a name that resonates with pride and inspiration in the world of boxing. His journey from a humble background to becoming an Olympic medalist is a testament to his determination, skill, and resilience.

Serantes first rose to prominence in the 1985 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in Bangkok, Thailand. Despite the host nation dominating the boxing events, Serantes emerged victorious in the light flyweight division, defeating the hometown favorite Supad Boonrowd. This victory marked the beginning of his illustrious career. He successfully defended his title in the 1987 SEA Games in Indonesia, further establishing himself as a formidable boxer.

The pinnacle of Serantes’ career came at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Competing in the light flyweight division, he was not initially considered the strongest contender for a medal. However, Serantes defied expectations by securing a bronze medal, ending the Philippines’ 24-year Olympic medal drought. His journey to the podium included impressive victories over Hassan Mustafa of Egypt, Sammy Stewart of Liberia, and Mahjoub Mjirich of Morocco. Although he lost to Bulgaria’s Ivailo Marinov in the semifinals, his achievement was celebrated as a monumental success for Philippine sports.

Serantes’ Olympic bronze was more than just a medal; it was a symbol of hope and pride for the Philippines. His success inspired future generations of Filipino boxers, including Roel Velasco, who won a bronze in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, who secured a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Despite his achievements, Serantes’ life after boxing was marked by struggles. He suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and faced financial difficulties. In his later years, he was hospitalized and required intensive medical care. Recognizing his contributions to Philippine sports, Bounty Agro Ventures provided him with a monthly allowance to help cover his medical expenses.

Leopoldo Serantes passed away on September 1, 2021, at the age of 59. His legacy, however, lives on. He was posthumously inducted into the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame, ensuring that his contributions to boxing and his role as a national hero are remembered.

Serantes’ story is one of triumph over adversity. From his victories in the SEA Games to his historic Olympic bronze, he demonstrated the spirit of a true champion. His life serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of perseverance and the impact of sports on national pride.

[1] https://www.olympedia.org/athletes/7670
[2] https://www.rappler.com/sports/boxing/olympic-boxing-medalist-leopoldo-serantes-dies/
[3] https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopoldo_Serantes
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopoldo_Serantes
[5] https://www.espn.com/story/_/id/32123369/filipino-olympic-boxing-bronze-medalist-leopoldo-serantes-dies-59
[6] https://www.spin.ph/multisport/olympics/boxing-great-leopoldo-serantes-passes-away-at-59-a795-20210901
[7] https://www.rappler.com/sports/boxing/leopoldo-serantes-almost-forgotten-olympic-hero/


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