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First Filipino Olympic silver medalist Anthony Villanueva passes away at age 69

The country lost one of its finest boxers of all time following the death of Olympic hero Anthony Villanueva on Tuesday morning.

He was 69.

Villanueva won for the Philippines its first silver medal in the Olympics after he advanced to the gold medal match of the 1964 Tokyo Games. He lost to Stanislav Stepashkin of the Soviet Union in a hotly-contested final in the featherweight division.

“To me, he’s the country’s first Olympic gold medalist,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) spokesman and first vice president Joey Romasanta in a text message from Bangkok.

“We lost a great athlete like we lost the gold in the Olympics,” Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia said for his part.

Villanueva has been bedridden for several years now and is based in Cabuyao, Laguna. Friends of the family said he died in his sleep at around 11 am on Tuesday.

A tribute for Villanueva was supposed to be held on June 12 under the 'Pagpupugay' project of former PBL commissioner Chito Trinidad.

His father, Jose, is also a boxer and Olympic medalist, having won the bronze during the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. - Gerry Ramos, SPIN