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Jerwin Ancajas: The making of a world champion

It's 8:30 a.m. Like everyone else, Jerwin Ancajas is up early, ready to get some work done. Commuters hate perspiring this time of the day. Inside a training room, Ancajas lets the sweat drip off his body. Being drenched doesn’t stop him progressing from one task to another. He is locked in.

Ancajas calmly climbs the ring in the middle of the Elorde Boxing Gym in the bustling city of Imus. Hands taped, he zeroes in on his first task this morning — shadow-boxing. He conjures up an adversary as he begins stabbing the air with his fists. He will go through 20 hard rounds and this is just Phase 1.

Jerwin Ancajas shadow-boxes in preparation for his defense of the world junior-bantamweight title against Teiru Kinoshita of Japan in Brisbane on July 2. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News
“Hindi po madaling mag-ensayo, lalo na magkuha ng timbang. Iyon ang pinakamahirap. Ang paglaban nandyan lang, lalaban at lalaban ka. Pero iyong ensayo, hindi ka naman mananalo kung hindi ka mag-ensayo ng mabuti,” Ancajas says. “Tapos sakripisyo kung kailangan malayo sa pamilya mo, lalo na kung hard na ang training. Wala na dapat distraction.”

Ancajas goes about his business in virtual obscurity. During this time, nobody bothers him for a selfie, an autograph or even small talk. Ancajas and his crew appreciate the lack of attention, a rare convenience for somebody of his stature, a world boxing champion.

“Tinatago namin talaga si Jerwin. Ayaw talaga namin iyong may nakakagulo,” says Joven Jimenez, Ancajas’ trainer and manager. (We’re keeping him out of the public eye. We don’t want to be bothered.) Jimenez says insulating Ancajas from the crowd prevents the boxer from catching a virus that could make him ill and derail their big-picture plans

In a few days’ time, when Ancajas steps on a massive stage the likes of which he has never seen, that’s when his life could start to change, his effort to blend in with the crowd eventually rendered useless.

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