MANILA, Philippines — Irish Magno was just trying to ditch on household duties but she never knew that her rebellious antics would become the first domino piece in her athletic career.
That fateful after-school escapade to Janiuay’s town plaza in Iloilo ultimately instilled a love of boxing that the young Magno never shook off.
Only 16 years old that time, Magno watched in awe as she saw amateur boxers train and when that team’s coach approached her hesitancy became commitment.
Her commitment ultimately became her ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I never imagined that I would become part of the national team just because I was trying to escape doing some household chores,” said Magno in Filipino. “Never in my wildest dreams that I would reach the Olympics.”
“Maybe if I didn’t do that, I’d still be in the province and would’ve been a farmer by now.”
Magno, at first, wasn’t all that serious in her budding career but she was slowly getting into it that she was even afraid of telling her parents about it.
The then-teenager was then shocked to learn that she would be competing in the National Open, Youth and Women’s Amateur Boxing Championship in Iloilo City.
It was in that event that her love for the sport blossomed after she witnessed future teammates Josie Gabuco, Analisa Cruz, and Annie Albania fight inside the ring.
Her admiration, however, turned to fear when she fought Albania, a gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games, and while she was defeated the loss became her motivation to take boxing seriously.
Slowly, Magno pursued and became a Philippine representative in the SEA Games winning a bronze and two silvers from 2013 to 2019.
There were, however, moments that Magno was tempted to quit.
“Before I was telling myself that I should quit from boxing that I would give up from the sport,” said Magno. “But if I go back to the province then I’d be back to zero. I’ll go back to virtually having nothing.”
“Instead of having the means to help my family, I’d just be a burden. That what I was thinking. So I pushed on despite the difficulties because now I can help them.”
Despite coming up short in the SEA Games, Magno made history when she became the first Filipino woman boxer to qualify for the Olympics.
Magno defeated Tajikistan’s Sumaiya Qosimova 5-0 in the box-off round of the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Amman, Jordan to get to Tokyo.
That victory, however, was a bit of redemption bid for Magno after she lost in the quarterfinals against India’s Mary Kom.
“I lost to Mary Kom in the quarterfinals and I admit I really lost faith in myself that time,” said Magno. “But I knew I had to win in my next fight to get to the Olympics so I told myself and I pushed myself that I should get the win.”
“When I lost and I got another chance I told myself that I won’t waste this opportunity that was given to me. I was given another chance so why will I waste it? I should forget about the loss and what happened was I gave everything I had.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.