Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Philippine officials looking into death of boxer

MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine boxing officials said they planned to fly to Bangkok on Wednesday to investigate the death of a Filipino boxer hours after an unauthorized match believed to have been arranged by an illegal boxing syndicate.

Lito Sisnorio, 24, former World Boxing Council youth flyweight champion, died of suspected brain injuries on Saturday after a fourth-round knockout by former WBC flyweight champion Chatchai Sasakul of Thailand.

We "want to get initial information on what brought Sisnorio to the fight and who are the people responsible in Thailand," said Nasser Cruz, boxing division chief of the government's Games and Amusement Board, which issues permits to Filipino boxers.

Cruz said Sisnorio did not have permission to fight and was pitted against an opponent who was older and had twice as much experience.

A permit is issued after a boxer receives medical clearance and his boxing record is reviewed. Cruz said Sisnorio's fight record failed to qualify him.

Philippine boxing officials complained that despite an agreement with Thai authorities to ban Filipino boxers with no clearance, many still end up in rings in Thailand.

Cruz said a syndicate in Thailand is believed to recruit retired or suspended boxers from the Philippines who do not have permits to fight.

He said the Games and Amusement Board would seek assistance from Thai authorities through the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok "to help us control illegal activities of professional boxers not passing by GAB to get a permit."

He also noted that while Philippine boxing officials are regulated by the government, boxing authorities in Thailand are private individuals.

Cruz said the Philippines might file a protest with international boxing bodies in an attempt to end the unapproved fights.


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