Ever been to a boxing gym that also houses snakes and crocodiles aside from professional boxers?
Ever seen a boxing gym that is so large it has its own running track, basketball court, and boxers' dormitory?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ALA Boxing Gym.
Established in 1985, the ALA boxing gym of Cebu City, Philippines is widely considered as the most famous boxing gym in the entire archipelago. It is a breeding ground for future Filipino boxing stars.
Portraits of boxers from this boxing stable who have reaped international titles are hung on the walls of the gym to immortalize their achievements.
The gym has produced many intercontinental champions but currently has only one world champion in the person of Donnie "Ahas" Nietes who is the reigning WBO minimumweight World Champion.
Other famous Filipino boxers who are currently training in the gym includes Z "The Dream" Gorres, AJ "Bazooka" Banal, Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista, Milan "Milenyo" Melindo, Czar Amonsot, Michael Domingo, and the Melligen brothers, Mark Jason and Mark Gil.
Boxers here are collectively known as the ALA boys.
The entire gym is a large open area far from the busy streets of Cebu. The atmosphere is pollution free thus Boxers can train while breathing fresh air coming from mother nature herself.
The mini zoo is the most unique feature of this gym. There are snakes, crocodiles, monkeys, and eagles. The ring gladiators here very much enjoy the presence of different animals and they sometimes do the feeding themselves. The lone ALA boy world champion, Donnie Nietes, even carries his pet python as he makes his fight entrance.
I guess even warriors need time to commune with nature to calm their ferocious instincts.
With regards to boxing equipments, the gym has two standard sized boxing rings, punching bags, speed balls, weights, and all other necessary equipments that are needed for superb boxing training. In addition to that, there is also a running track that are used by the boxers for their early morning jogging routine.
A basketball court is purposely placed inside the gym for leisure purposes since Filipinos are known to be lovers of basketball and boxers are not exempted from that.
The core of the ALA gym is Mr. Antonio L. Aldeguer. He is a wealthy Filipino businessman, a philanthropist and a boxing enthusiast. His vision is to help alleviate poverty through his boxing programs.The letters ALA is derived from Mr. Aldeguer's full name.
Michael Aldeguer, Antonio's son, is the one who manages the careers of their boxers.
Through the years, families of boxers have benefited from Mr. Aldeguer's generosity. His promotional outfit, ALA promotions, has helped boxers from the ALA gym earn dollars by having them fight abroad. ALA promotions has also partnered with international boxing promotional outfits, Golden Boy promotions and Top Rank.
Z Gorres and Rey Bautista were signed up by Golden Boy promotions a few years ago while Mark Jason Melligen is reportedly going to be signed up by Top Rank.
RECENT ACTIVITIES and THE FUTURE for ALA GYM
Last February 28, 2009, Donnie Nietes successfully defended his crown in Mexico. Seven days later, Mark Jason Melligen crushed his opponent in the fifth round in his first ever fight on U.S. soil.
Just last night, Gorres successfully made his debut at bantamweight by crushing former world champion Roberto "Mako" Leyva via seventh round TKO while Melindo won a hard earned unanimous decision against another former world champion Muhamad "Rock Breaker" Rachman in the minimumweight division.
With regards to the future of the ALA boys,Donnie Nietes may fight Mexican champion Ulises Solis or move up in weight to square off with Ivan Calderon within this year. Z Gorres may have his rematch with Fernando Montiel who has reportedly also moved up to bantamweight. Another fight for Mark Jason Melligen in the U.S. looms while AJ Banal is also slated to fight outside the country this May. It has also been hoped that Milan Melindo might soon get a title shot in his division after compiling a record of 18 wins with no defeats.
Rey Bautista is still sidelined because of an injury after his defeat in the hands of Mexican Herberto Ruiz. There is still no date set for his comeback fight.
The fate of the ALA boys are still uncertain. But with strong dedication and discipline plus the unending support of their benefactor, we cannot help but conclude that sooner or later a new world champion from the ALA boxing gym will emerge.