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Protest by Filipino boxers mars SEA Games

December 14, 2007

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KORAT (Thailand), Dec 13: The boxing tournament at the SEA Games was thrown into chaos on Thursday after six Philippine fighters retired in a protest over the judging as Thailand passed 150 gold medals.Philippine athletes were down to fight in seven of the ten gold medal bouts against the host nation and their actions helped Thailand sweep to all ten boxing golds to take their tally to a huge 155 golds.

Vietnam are second with 60 gold medals and Malaysia have 54.

“We’re not blaming Thailand. What we want corrected are the problems that have been with the AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) for many years,” Philippines’ chef de mission Monico Puentevella told AFP.

He said the decision to retire from the fights was taken by the boxers following the results in the women’s contests Wednesday.

“They decided they did not want to fight anymore because they might get hurt, and for what?” he said, pointing out that overall Thailand had won 16 of the 17 boxing golds.

Earlier, he said: “We came here to compete in a spirit of friendship, but yesterday one of our (female) boxers lost 19-0 in a three-round fight. We can’t even get a single point. This is too much. It has been going on for a decade everywhere.”The Philippines’ Godfrey Castro was the first boxer to withdraw, retiring from his flyweight bout against the host country’s Somjit Jongjohor.

The manager of Thailand’s boxing team, Chavala Suvannachive, said he disagreed with the decision of the Philippine boxers.

On Wednesday, Manny Lopez, president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines, called the boxing competition a “comic show” after Thailand won six out of the seven women’s events.

“They should not dishonour us by giving one-sided decisions. I’d not like to be a part of this comic show in Thailand,” he told the Bangkok Post.

Controversy also raged on the badminton courts where Indonesia’s Olympic badminton champion Taufik Hidayat was ordered to the stands on Wednesday after a heated exchange with an umpire.

Hidayat accused the officials of trying to aid Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana.

But a Thai badminton official Thursday angrily rejected the complaints.

There have also been allegations of biased judging in favour of Thai athletes in the weightlifting.

In the boxing ring Thursday, Thailand’s Olympic champion and Asian Games gold medallist Manus Boonjamnong outpointed the Philippines’ Larry Semillano 10-4 in his light-welterweight bout.

The biennial SEA Games have been dogged before by accusations of bias with this year’s event marking a role reversal for Thailand, which levied similar claims against the Philippines at the last Games in Manila.

After then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra complained of bias in 2005, Thai officials roundly promised to ensure that they would guarantee fair play when the games came here.

Meanwhile, in the men’s golf competition, Pipatpong Naewsuk of Thailand took the gold with an 11-under-par total of 277 after four rounds. Thailand also finished top in the team competition.—AFP