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THUMBS UP: Joe Quiambao inside the ring after Sergio Martinez knocked out Paul Williams at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. on Nov. 20, 2010.

 

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Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

Joe Quiambao has a daunting task awaiting him every time he walks into his Manhattan office for work: getting boxers who might not want to fight each other in the ring together.

“Being a matchmaker is something I would not wish on my worst enemy,” said Quiambao in jest.

Quiambao, 36, a first generation Filipino-American from Jamaica, Queens, is one of the unsung heroes of professional boxing, working behind the scenes as the matchmaker for New York-based promoter Dibella Entertainment.

Dibella Entertainment, which is headed by Lou Dibella, promotes top-rated pound-for-pound fighter Sergio Martinez, as well as former Olympians and title contenders Andre Berto and Andy Lee.

“He’s grown into one of the best matchmakers in the country,” said Lou Dibella, who described Quiambao as “an unassuming, very religious, easy-going kid.”

It’s a stressful job, Quiambao says, one where all could be going right and then fall apart the next moment.

Boxers get sick; miss weight; want to renegotiate purses at the 11th hour; or just get cold feet.

Quiambao is the guy who picks up the pieces and puts it all back together so the fans can get bang for their purchased ticket buck.

And as Murphy’s Law suggests, all that can go wrong usually does.

“When you have a dynamite prospect, it’s good because you don’t have to protect them,” said Quiambao, “but it also can be difficult because other fighters will not want to fight them. Also, you can have fighters who only want to fight boxers who have no chance of winning. These fights not only hurt boxing but hurt the fighter’s progression.

“It’s my job to not let that happen.”


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DYNAMIC DUO: Joe Quiambao, left, with Ring World Middleweight Champion Sergio Gabriel Martinez, who is promoted by Dibella Entertainment. Ring Magazine currently rates Martinez as the number two pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

 

Quiambao understands the fighter’s perspective, having been a standout amateur in his own right.

His interest in boxing began when his father would bring home the programs from the New York Daily News Golden Gloves, one of the country’s most prestigious amateur tournaments in the country.

“As a kid, I would say it would be cool for me to be in these programs,” said Quiambao.

He would make it to the program.

Many times.

Trained by former middleweight pro Roy Edmonds at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, Quiambao won the 106 pound open class Golden Gloves title in 1993 after three years of making it to the Finals.

He also won New York’s Metros and Empire State Games titles.

Quiambao went as far as the National Golden Gloves in Arkansas, losing a decision in his first bout to future world champion and Olympian Eric Morel.

Morel would eventually lose in the finals to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“Having been a successful amateur boxer, he knew the pro fighters from the amateur ranks, so we really got a head start in New York City,” said Dibella.

As one of the nation’s top amateur talents, the temptation was there to turn professional.

But Quiambao was a realist; these were the days before Manny Pacquiao established a Filipino boxing fan base in America.

These were the days when Filipino champions Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Penalosa had to travel to Mexico and Korea for big opportunities against uncertain judging.

Quiambao knew that at 5 foot 5 and 108 pounds, his chances of making a career in the pros were slim.

So he elected to pursue school and entered Hunter College as a physical education major.

Upon graduating, Quiambao went to pick up his diploma only to find out that he was still a half credit shy.

Instead of taking a class, Quiambao acted on the advice of an advisor and sought out a working internship.

It was a decision that has led him to his life’s calling.

“I remembered in an interview with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs when he said he got his start in the music business and he said he began as an unpaid intern at Uptown Records.

He said nobody will turn down free labor.

So I wrote an e-mail to the Vice President of DiBella Entertainment at the time, David Itskowitch, and was able to land the internship.

“As an intern, you’re treated like a piece of dirt, so if you want to get noticed, you can’t work hard, you can’t work double hard, you have to work quadruple hard and do everything they say and do it with a smile.”

Quiambao did just that, and after two years as an unpaid intern a spot opened up as Dibella’s assistant.

Quiambao then became the medical coordinator before reaching his spot as matchmaker.

Yet as he’s climbed the corporate ladder, Quiambao still appreciates where he came from.

His parents, Romeo and Consuelo Quiambao, came to America without a dollar, just a degree in accounting and a dream.

They worked hard, living with family until they could afford a place of their own.

They attended the predominantly Filipino church Immaculate Conception in Jamaica Estates, which provided Quiambao with a sense of community.

Those same family values are the ones that Quiambao has passed onto his son Joseph Jr., and wife Heavenly Quiambao.

 

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TERRIFIC THREE: Joe Quiambao with his wife Heavenly and their son Joseph Jr.

 

It’s poetic that Joe, who was brought to this point in life by his father’s passion, is now able to return the favor through his occupation.

“His dream was to go to the States and watch the big fights here. Now with the job I have, I am able to further fulfill my dad’s dream. He not only gets to go to the fights but gets a great seat, meets a lot of the fighters, and doesn’t have to pay a dime.”

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Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMANews.TV and the Filipino Reporter newspaper.

He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com

Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia

 

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MULTITASKING: The matchmaker, Joe Quiambao, busy at work in Manhattan with his son Joseph Jr.

 

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UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Joe Quiambao (far left) ringside at the Andre Berto (center) fight. Berto is promoted by Dibella Entertainment.