Sports

Who Is Carlo Paalam, the Former Scavenger Who Is Now an Olympic Medalist?

Paalam defeated the Olympic champion.
IMAGE JEROME ASCAÑO
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Filipino flyweight boxer Carlo Paalam has secured the Philippines’ fourth medal after beating Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoiroc in the men’s fly (48-52kg) quarterfinals.

Paalam won the match by a split decision 4-0 after beating the world’s Olympic flyweight champion. Paalam is now assured a bronze medal as he moves on to the semifinal round.

After defeating the Uzbek fighter, the 23-year-old Paalam is now the third Filipino boxer to bag a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is undoubtedly the best performance from Team Philippines in history.

Fellow boxer Nesthy Petecio will fight for the gold in her final match later today while Eumir Marcial will battle it out in the bronze semifinals on Thursday.

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Who Is Carlo Paalam?

Like many of the athletes on Team Philippines, Paalam pursued sports in an effort to support his family. Growing up, his father raised him and his siblings alone, and at a young age, Paalam had to resort to scavenging in Cagayan de Oro’s landfills.

He won his first boxing match at a local tournament at only seven years old and used the winnings to buy rice. It was at these “Boxing at the Park” matches where he was discovered by CDO officials who took him under their wing, gave him a monthly allowance, and helped get him through school.

He was eventually scouted by the national team and has been representing the Philippines in international matches since 2016, when he took home the bronze at the AIBA Youth Asian and World Championships.

In 2018, he bagged bronze at the Asian Games in Jakarta, and in 2019, took home the gold in the Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is Paalam’s first Olympics. He now joins the ranks of fellow boxers Petecio and Marcial in bagging medals for the Philippines in their Olympic debuts.

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Anri Ichimura
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