Donnie Nietes, entrepreneur

I had a 22-minute conversation yesterday with the country’s longest-reigning boxing world champ. Since he scored a TKO against Ricardo Albia in Jan. 29, 2005, the Murcia, Negros-born boxer has not lost in 15 years. But today, boxing is farthest from the mind of Donnie Liboon Nietes.

“Wala na gyud ang boxing (boxing is dead) this year,” said the ALA Boxing Gym legend. “I am not confident in being able to get a fight.”

At 38 years old, he was aiming for that career-ending “Dream Fight,” possibly against Chocolatito, Estrada, Ioka or Rungvisai. But Covid-19 struck. To keep himself busy, Donnie exercises daily. At his home in Canduman, Mandaue, a punching bag and speed ball are often battered by his spitfire punches. But it’s biking that he relishes most.

“I have a fat bike (Specialized brand) and I bike at least 3 times a week,” said Donnie. He’s been pedaling the fat bike for three years and used to go offroad trekking with 15 of his friends. But since the lockdown, he often goes solo or, at most, with three others.

“I wear a bonnet because it’s hard to breathe wearing a face mask,” said Donnie, who prefers biking at night, using headlights and blinkers, from 5 to 9 p.m. He also has two fixie bikes.  

On boxing, Donnie admitted: “Wala na gyud ta mahimo if boxing ang saligan. Ma pobre gyud ta. (We cannot rely on boxing or else we will become poor).”

Last week, he bought a Kia Bongo truck. “Lipat bahay” services, he calls it, hauling large items from clients anywhere in Cebu. In his Facebook post yesterday, his truck was fully loaded and en route to Bogo City. The driver: Donnie Nietes. “Ako syempre ma-ngunay (I do it myself),” he said.

Supplier of vegetables is another goal of Donnie. He visited farmers in Mantalongon, Dalaguete and aims to deliver fresh supplies to his contacts in Mandaue. “Tabang sad ni sa farmers (this will also help the farmers). They have difficulty with transportation,” he said, targeting to supply “repolyo, pechay, kamatis, sibuyas bombay, pipino, sili, luy-a.”

Donnie also sells Kimchi. No, he doesn’t prepare it himself but has a Korean friend who acts as supplier. Chorizo, alcohol, face masks — these are more items the champ sells.

In Balamban, he has a sand and gravel trucking business (with a partner) and they deliver to Dumanjug, Barili and Toledo.

Botin LPG? Yes, Donnie is a dealer of these refillable LPG canisters (used for portable gas stoves). “Safe and legal ni ang Botin!” Donnie said proudly. He’s also happy that one of his resellers is a dear friend: boxing coach Edito Villamor. “Aside from Botin LPG reseller si Coach Dito, I also plan to supply him with vegetables so he can sell them near his home in Pagsabungan, Mandaue.”

To do business with Donnie  — and get the chance of speaking with a Cebu icon — you can message him in his Facebook page or text/call him at 09177168787 or 09338574078.

“Bisag unsa,” he said, “basta maka-negosyo ta.”

That resilience and resourcefulness, my dear friends, is what makes a champion.

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