TALIBON, BOHOL—Boxing champion ., who grew up in the United States but was born in Talibon town, was honored with a hero’s welcome on his arrival in his hometown yesterday.
The 24-year-old Donaire won both the International Boxing Federation and International Boxing Organization light flyweight boxing titles at a recent bout in Las Vegas against Vic Darchinyan, knocking his opponent out in the fifth round.
Hundreds of Talibon residents cheered when Donaire made a courtesy call on Talibon Mayor Juanario Item and some local officials.
More people greeted him during the motorcade, some waving banners and photos, and hailing him as a hometown hero.
“He made us feel so proud. He put Bohol and Talibon on the map. We consider him as a hero who brought pride to the Filipino people,” Item said.
Donaire’s maternal roots are from Barangay San Jose, Talibon. He left Talibon, a first class municipality 100 km from Tagbilaran City, in 1993 at three years old when his family migrated to California.
Donaire said, in an interview, that he was grateful for the grand welcome saying he was inspired to fight to give fame to Filipinos in his hometown.
He said he went to the Lady of Grace Church in his hometown in California to ask for blessing a week before his fight.
“I know I’m destined to win because I have a strong faith in God. I have prepared for the fight and I know I could do it,” said Donaire.
Donaire said it was his maternal grandfather Francisco Gonzalez, now 94 years old, who inspired him to dream big.
Lolo Francisco was among the many relatives who greeted Donaire, along with his uncle Rev. Fr. Mathias Gonzalez, parish priest of Talibon.
Dressed in a black shirt bearing his favorite grandson’s winning stance, Lolo Francisco got emotional when he finally met Donaire.
Lolo Francisco said he missed his grandson whom he described as very obedient.
It was in 2003 that he last saw Donaire whose visit to Talibon yesterday was the first since he won the championship.
Donaire’s father, Nonito Sr., who came home with his son, said his son would leave for the United States in August where he would rest for a month before resuming his training for his title defense in November.
The elder Donaire said he had taught his son not to allow his fame to go to his head. “I have been telling him to stay humble and not let his fame sink him. He has always been a good child and we’re so proud of him,” he said.