“We would not be here without Flash Elorde.”
– ALA Boxing President/CEO Michael Aldeguer during the 15th Elorde Awards
Michael Aldeguer, a second generation Cebuano entrepreneur, is the President and CEO of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer (ALA) Boxing Group. From its humble beginnings of being a gym for out-of-school teenagers to the biggest Asian boxing promotion, the success of ALA can be attributed to the passion of Michael Aldeguer for the sport he holds dear to his heart.
Where it all began
Antonio Aldeguer, the Godfather of Filipino boxing, started a boxing gym that trained kids from low-income households to, hopefully, become amateur or professional boxers. Coming from a successful garments business, this was Antonio’s sort-of corporate social responsibility that blended in his passion for boxing and to help the less fortunate.
The second of three sons, Michael Aldeguer was introduced to boxing by his father during his teenage years. During the 15th Elorde Awards Night last March 25, 2015, he said that the legendary Gabriel “Flash” Elorde was his inspiration of getting into the boxing business. “I knew about Flash when my father told me about him. My father idolized him. He had a lot of posters of him in his room, and I never knew why,” Aldeguer said. “Eventually, the more I knew about Flash, the more I idolized him. We would not be here without him.”
Michael Aldeguer wanted to expand the operations of ALA Boxing. He envisioned the brand to not only be a gym but to become a huge media property. However, according to an interview with Inquirer.net [READ: Jay, Michael and Chris Aldeguer: What sets them apart from other entrepreneurs], his father just wanted to do this for the love of the sport. For Michael, however, it would not be sustainable for a non-profit organization to stay in the red for the entirety of its life. He, later on, took over ALA and made it an enterprise just so his father could continue to box more.
Aldeguer started to promote fight cards in the 2000’s. Being a second generation entrepreneur, he was aggressive in setting out goals. But he needed a good partner to help build the brand and broadcast it to the masses. Enter ABS-CBN.
“You have to know, when we first started, it was with ABS-CBN. We needed a medium where we could showcase the Filipino boxer. It was about time that a Filipino organization and a Filipino network to come together and showcase Filipino fighters,” Aldeguer recalled.
But then they needed a catchy title for the show where they would revolve the brand around. “The cards are centered around Filipino fighters then we thought of the name pride. Talagang pride ng mga Filipino so we used the name Pinoy Pride. We pitched it to ABS-CBN and it grew. We make sure we have quality fights, that’s what we wanted to do and it flew.”
With the fall of the syndicated show Blow-by-Blow, Pinoy Pride took over its place as the live spectacle for the loyal fans of the sweet science. As ALA produced more shows each year, they needed to fill-out the cards with boxers. For Aldeguer, he did not just want to produce shows with random boxers. What he envisioned is a card filled with quality fighters in quality match-ups that will leave people speechless during the telecasts. “The fact that there is a chance to grow boxing in the Philippines. And there’s a lot of talent here in the Philippines, not another Manny Pacquiao, but a lot fighters who can fight in the name of the country,” Aldeguer said. “We continue to help in the grassroots development of the sport through our gyms and, eventually, with the right work, they have the chance to be featured in the Pinoy Pride cards,” he added.
Moreover, to provide a deep fight card for the audience, ALA Promotions, the only Asian promotion with tie-ups to two of the biggest boxing promotions in the world: Top Rank and Golden Boy, also fills the card with international talent. These tie-ups have resulted to making each card a must-watch; driving in huge amounts of sponsors and advertisers for every Pinoy Pride card.
Aldeguer, staying true and humble after all the years of success, deflects all the credit to his partners. For him, it’s a group effort and finding the right people: “I have to give credit to ABS-CBN. They played a major role because they are a very huge network. And of course to the fighters, without them there will be no quality fights. People watch because of them. It’s very important to be surrounded with good people, including the organization of ALA. And of course the media, to be honest, it’s a whole team effort.”
Taking ALA Global
Right now, ALA Boxing is a multi-million peso property that is expanding through various forms of media and establishments. Aside from the Pinoy Pride series, the group has built gyms in Cebu and Manila to, not only train fighters, but to also promote boxing as a lifestyle. A business perfected by the Elorde family, as seen in their numerous gyms all over the Philippines. The brand is also producing apparel with the ALA brand emblazed on the gear, a throwback to the Aldeguer’s family business. Both are alternative revenue routes for the Cebuano brand.
ALA Promotions is also the first Asian boxing promotion to have a boxing license to organize a fight card in America. “We just got a license in the US. The first one in Asia to do it. We have three events in California lined-up so that’s the next move. And we have two events in the Middle East as well. We want to bring Pinoy Pride and the quality of events, not just here in the Philippines, but also abroad,” Aldeguer excitedly told us.
The seven-time Elorde Awards Promoter of the Year told us that he is taking Pinoy Pride global because he wants to give the Overseas Filipino Workers, heroes in his eyes, quality fights the local fight fans are enjoying. “We had a successful show in Dubai last September. So we want to do it again and bring joy to the OFW’s. We want to give them another good show again.” Finally, the international shows they will produce will also help in the exposure of the Filipino boxer and Filipino boxing in general to the global market.
Michael Aldeguer is the best example of the modern entrepreneur: passionate, determined, risk-taking. From a philanthropical act to a sporting juggernaut, ALA Boxing has become synonymous to Filipino boxing. Aldeguer has achieved this feat without forgetting the reason why his father started this: to help give the Filipino youth direction through sports.
Pinoy Pride 31 takes place tomorrow at the Cebu City Waterfront Hotel and Casino with the longest reigning Filipino world champion Donnie Nietes (35-1-4) puts his WBO Light Flyweight Championship on the line against Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (17-2-1). Here is the full card for tomorrow’s event:
Pinoy Pride 31: Clash of Champions Fight Card
July 11, 2015 – Cebu Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Cebu City
WBO World Light Flyweight Championship: Donnie Nietes vs. Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
Featherweight Bout (10 rounds): Mark Magsayo vs. Rafael Reyes
Minimumweight Bout (8 rounds): Vic Saludar vs. Michael Kaibigan
Featherweight Bout (8 rounds): Roli Gasca vs. Rasmanudin
Lightweight Bout (8 rounds): Elmo Traya vs. Bryan Macamay
Bantamweight Bout (6 rounds): Virgel Vitor vs. Carlo Demecillo
Bantamweight Bout (6 rounds): Raul Yu vs. Ricardo Sueno
Cruiserweight Bout (6 rounds): Jorge Kahwagi vs. Ramon Olivas
Flyweight Bout (4 rounds): Kevin Jake Cataraja vs. Ardi Tefa