WATCH: What is it like being a female boxer in the Philippines?

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Nesh Petecio is a three-time SEA Games silver medalist and has just recently won gold at the Indian Open Tournament, garnering the title of “Best Boxer” along the way. Photo by SAMANTHA LEE

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Boxing has become an unofficial national sport in the Philippines, producing a number of extraordinary talents, from legends like Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Pancho Villa, and Ceferino Garcia, to household names like Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire.

When Pacquiao was at his peak, every Filipino would be tuned in. Today, hundreds of boxing gyms around the country play host to enthusiasts and budding prizefighters alike.

Yet despite its mass appeal, the sport is still largely dominated by men, with the likes of International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior bantamweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas and IBF flyweight title holder Donnie Nietes being dubbed as some of the most promising names in boxing today. But this is something that female fighter Nesh Petecio is trying to break. “Kaya po nating mga babae sabayan ang ginagawa ng mga lalaki,” she says.  

Petecio won her first fight at 11 years old and hasn’t slowed down since. She’s a three-time SEA Games silver medalist and has just recently won gold at the Indian Open Tournament, garnering the title of “Best Boxer” along the way. She’s currently training for a match in Poland this March.

Personally, Petecio dreams of becoming an Olympian one day. But she also speaks of a bigger dream — that more women join the sport, and that female boxers gain more recognition. She herself found inspiration to push forward while watching other female boxers at international competitions.

Get to know Petecio and the world of female boxing in the video below: