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For Filipina fighter Nesthy Petecio, boxing is her way out of poverty

Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio is one of the athletes carrying the country's hopes to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

She shot to fame after becoming a world champion in 2019, but she never forgets her family's humble beginnings in Davao City.

In an interview with Ceej Tantengco on Go Hard Girls podcast last March, the 29-year-old ringster recalled how she worked her way up to the top.

Her father, Teodoro, is a farmer and her mother, Prescilla, is a housewife. Along with her siblings, Nesthy would pick up chicken droppings which would be sold as fertilizer for farms and fishponds.

These were how the Petecio family survived their day-to-day lives.

"During that time we really have nothing and we would just borrow money to be able to buy our food," Nesthy said in Filipino.

"So what we would do was join inter-barangay competitions and we would join because we knew, win or lose, we would get meals," she continued. 

Nesthy saw boxing as her ticket out of poverty, so she kept pursuing the sport even though many people thought it is only for men.

"I was 11 at the time, it was 'Araw ng Davao', and my opponent was a man because there were no women joining," she narrated.

"They were telling me to stop the match and asking me if I can still continue and I would say yes. There was no doubt on my part. I was firm in my belief. I really want to fight," she said.

Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas shared Petecio's sentiment, saying he wanted her to find her way out of poverty through the sport.

"They (Filipino boxers in the Olympics) worked really hard to build up their skills, their mindset, and their confidence," the official told GMA News Online in an interview.

"I am not pressuring her and I want them to just do their best and whatever medal we get in the Olympics, we will be very happy. I know that the country will rejoice."

Nesthy is currently seeing action in the women's featherweight division in  the Tokyo Games.

Her maiden appearance in the global conclave has been impressive so far. She bested Democratic Republic of Congo's Sakobi Matshu Marcelat in the Round of 32 en route to another triumph over top-seeded Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei.

Nesthy will fight on Wednesday in the quarterfinals round against Yeni Arias of Colombia. A win will assure her of at least a bronze medal finish.

—Bea Micaller/MGP, GMA News