By: Ray Andres
As fate would have it, destiny closed the door to sports artist Jun Aquino years back when he was being recognized as one of the most talented artists while working at the now defunct Free Press Magazine. The publication closed shop but it was not the end for the talented artist with new and better doors of opportunities opening up for him for his career to blossom anew and be propelled to a greater height.
His being recognized as a sports artist has been due somewhat to his star being hitched to a great boxer and now Senator Manny Pacquiao who considers him as “his personal painter”.
Aquino will be inducted in the West Coast Hall of Fame in the “Boxing Artist Category’” as a non-boxer on September 25 at Garland Event Center in Hollywood. He will join other inductees which include Bobby Chacon, Mike Weaver, Israel Vasquez, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Henry Armstrong, Armando Ramos, Jerry Quarry, Fidel LaBarba, Genero Hernandez, Jose Sulaiman and his son, Mauricio and William O’Neill.
The West Coast Hall of Fame is dedicated “to upholding the integrity, accuracy and of the great fighters of the past”.
Surprised by the forthcoming accolade, Aquino said, “Never in my wildest dream that one day I’ll be receiving an award for my boxing art and join the roster in the Hall of Fame of Boxing in America”.
Aquino also dedicates his award to E.Z. Izon who trained him to follow his footsteps as well as to his mom who he said always believed in him since he was six and to his wife, Melody and his son, Kyle.
In February of 2012, Manny Pacquiao gifted boxing great Muhammad Ali with Aquino’s water-color painting of the famed boxer at the “”Keep Memory Alive’s” 16th Annual Power of Love Gala in honor of Ali’s 70th birthday which was also a fundraiser for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center.
Aquino’s paintings was also part of the personal items Pacquiao auctioned off to raise more than $200,000 for Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2014.
President Barrack Obama was also a recipient of a painting done by Aquino which Manny and his wife Jinkee presented at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in February last year.
Meanwhile, on September 12, Aquino will auction his personal 4 by 6 feet portraits of celebrities personally signed by them for the Cris Angels Cancer Foundation of Magician Cris Angel whose son is battling cancer. The goal of the benefit show and auction under the auspices of Heal Every Life Possible (HELP) at the Luxor Resort Hotel in Las Vegas is to raise a million dollars to help fund research for cures for pediatric cancer.