RING and WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire told RingTV.com that he is hopeful that his compelling despair to success story is helpful to others who are enduring troubled times in their lives.
A four-division titlewinner who is nicknamed “The Filipino Flash,” Donaire (31-1, 20 knockouts) will never forget where he came from, or the fact that he very nearly ceased to exist.
Those facts were imparted by the Philippines native during a Sports Illustrated report by Chris Mannix in which he revealed how low self-worth, depression and abuse nearly led to his suicide attempt at the age of 10.
Life is somewhat different now for the 30-year-old Donaire, who wife is his manager Rachel Donaire, and who has pioneered 24-hour-per day, year-round, random drug testing that is being conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
THE RING’s fifth-ranked pound-for-pound boxer and 2012 Fighter of The Year candidate, Donaire shared about his past while also delivering a positive message for others during this Q&A below.
RingTV.com: How difficult was it for you to share such a private matter, and do you believe that your story can ultimately benefit others?
Nonito Donaire: Well, I think that I have to accept my past and who I am, because it made me who I am. You know, I know how it was to feel like you were nothing.
I know what it is like to feel like the whole world really didn’t need you and that you weren’t important and like you don’t exist.
Like you shouldn’t be in this world. Ultimately, though, it came down to knowing where I am and what I’m doing in my life to share that anything is possible.
RingTV.com: Did you surprise yourself?
ND: Well, with me, I didn’t think that it was something that I would share. I didn’t really feel like I would. But I feel like, sometimes, you know me.
When I’m tired, sometimes things just come from me. When I talked with Chris, I was jet-lagged and I hadn’t slept at all, and it was Christmas and I was just thankful that I had gotten to spend Christmas with my wife.
I got to spend Christmas with people that I cared about and I was just happy, you know? So I just sort of went on auto pilot and started to look back and to appreciate where I am.
Even some of the most negative things in your life, sometimes, you have to look back and appreciate them for what they were, because they make you who you are, and those troubles made me who I am.
RingtV.com: So is part of the message not to give in?
ND: Well, the whole thing is that if I had given up, then I wouldn’t be where I’m at. But every child in our lives — if you believe in God and if you believe in anything — then every child needs to be taught to be stronger.
They need to be shown that nothing an be put in front of you that you can’t handle. Except that in those traumatic situations, our minds and our bodies might tend to give up.
Because it hurts. Not only does it hurt, but your heart hurts, and your whole body hurts. You’re whole mind hurts and your whole system and your being hurts.
But again, that child has to be given hope and know that “I’m here for a reason.” I feel like my past, and who I was, and who I am now is just another way to be an example.
RingTV.com: Sort of like you are with your endeavor with VADA?
ND: Well, it’s like with the year-round drug testing. I feel like everything that you are as a person and everything that you try to do, if you work hard and you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
You look at little kids who never get picked, and even if you’re that kid that other kids make fun of, and you’re that kid that gets called a lot of negative names, anything is possible.
RingTV.com: What are your hopes as a result of your story being made public?
ND: Whether or not you’re a top athlete, there’s always those past experiences or those past situations that made you who you are, or that made why the things that you do are the things that you do.
Like there’s always that thing that will always remind us of who we are, and what we’ve been through. So if people can see it that way and relate to me and my experiences in a positive way, then that would always be a good honor for me.
Because I think that it doesn’t matter who you are. You can be the best guy in a sport or the best athlete or whoever it is. We’re still human, and that’s what it all comes down to is that we’re human.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org