Boxer Carlos Paalam‘s display of sportsmanship to Japanese foe Ryomei Tanaka after defeating him in the men’s flyweight semi-finals on Tokyo Olympics 2020 didn’t escape the local online community’s attention.
The 23-year-old Cagayan de Oro native won against the home bet in a unanimous decision, making him advance to the gold medal match against Great Britain’s Galal Yafai on Saturday.
Paalam is the fourth Philippine boxer to reach the Olympic finals after Anthony Villanueva, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco and silver medalist Nesthy Petecio.
“Idinaan ko sa bilis at ginawa ko kung ano talaga ‘yung laro ko,” he was quoted as saying.
Paalam was reported to be a moving target and had a one-two combination each time Tanaka connected.
Following his victory, he hoped that he could also achieve the same feat of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who brought home a gold medal.
“Hinihiling ko po ngayon sa mga kapwa ko Filipino na ipagdasal ako. Gagawin ko ang best ko, kasi hindi ko naman hawak ‘yung desisyon, tsaka ‘yung kalaban ko magaling din. Tiwala lang sa sarili. At sana ibigay sa atin ng Panginoon,” Paalam said.
Meanwhile, clips of his post-bout moments with Tanaka gained traction on local social media where his countrymen lauded him for his show of sportsmanship and affection for his competitor.
Paalam was seen giving Tanaka a forehead kiss after the match.
“Totally satisfying win. And did you see that super cute sportsmanlike kiss from Carlo Paalam?” a Twitter user said.
— Gretchen Laurel (@Gretchen_Laurel) August 5, 2021
A clearer video was shared by Spin.ph sportswriter Reuben Terrado.
— Reuben Terrado (@reubensports) August 5, 2021
“That kiss in the forehead ni Carlo Paalam kay Tanaka is so sweet! Sportsmanship at its finest! Congrats again, Carlo!” another Twitter user commented.
“I really love it nung yinakap at binuhat, sabay kiss, niya si Tanaka, such a sportsmanship. Congratulations, Carlo Paalam,” another online user wrote in response to the captured moment.
Sportsmanship is defined by Merriam-Webster as “conduct (such as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.”
A feature from BBC notes that it is the act of “playing fairly in the spirit of the game, showing respect and fair play to opponents and graciousness in both victory and defeat.”