From Scavenger to Silver Medalist, Carlo Paalam Is Taking Home P17 Million

A Cinderella story before our eyes.

After a tight match against Britain’s Galal Yafai, Carlo Paalam was one point away from winning the finals. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old fighter from Cagayan de Oro is still going home with a silver medal. A silver is still a huge achievement, especially considering that Paalam defeated the Rio Olympics flyweight world champion Shakhobidin Zoiroc from Uzbekistan in the semifinals and Japan's Ryomei Tanaka in his home court. 

But not only is Paalam going home with an Olympic medal—he’s also bringing P17 million with him.

Prior to the Olympics, the government, private companies, tycoons, and politicians all promised cash incentives to every Filipino who managed to secure a medal at the Olympics. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was the Philippines’ best Olympic campaign in history, and now these tycoons and politicians will need to prepare their checks for not just one Olympic medalist, but four.

Here’s all the cash Paalam is taking home after placing second:


1| P5 million from the Philippine Sports Foundation
2| P5 million from the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation
3| P5 million from the San Miguel Corporation
4| P2 million from House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero

In total, that’s P17 million for now. The LGUs of the other Olympics medalists are pitching in a couple million or so, so this cash pool is expected to grow in the next few days. This is also not including pledges for properties, lifetime free services, and sponsorships are expected to be announced.

Paalam is also part of the “Golden Olympics,” which is what fans and officials are calling the best Philippine campaign in history. Prior to 2020, there had only been 10 Filipino medalists since the Olympics started in 1928. Now, we have 14 medals, so brands will certainly not pass up the chance to partner with Paalam.

Paalam’s background is a humble one: as a child, he scavenged the landfills of Cagayan de Oro and fought in local boxing matches when he was only seven years old to help support his impoverished family. Like his fellow medalists, Paalam used sports as a way to lift his family out of poverty, and the sheer amount of winnings coming his way is certainly well-deserved.

This only marks the beginning of his career. At only 23, there’s already buzz about Carlo’s prospects in professional boxing—and in Paris 2024.

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Anri Ichimura
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