Mariano Guiang (1904-1992), a Filipino boxer, emigrated from the Philippines to live in Seattle, arriving at the age of 19 on June 12, 1924. This is a reminiscence excerpted from a longer interview conducted by Carolina Koslosky on September 24, 1976, as part of the Washington State Oral History Project, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington.
Excerpts from the Interview
"I came here by steamship, President McKinley. At that time, we landed on what they call Pier 91 now. It was just two piers in there. At that time there was no plane for coming from the Philippines. I was 19.
Coming To America
"[I came from] Norte, Ilocas Norte. I was raised –- my mother died while I was 7 years old –- we were lucky enough to be raised by our aunt. And when I went with my father to Manila, you know, when I went back from vacation, my aunt told me, 'All your friends are gone to America now, I think you better be going.' I didn’t want it, I didn’t want it. They finally convince me but they doubt if I wanted to come, see, because, you know, I refuse at first. Then my sister came with me to Manila and see [that] I really came. I didn’t, in my mind, I was not willing to come. But they finally convinced me to come.
"I had my uncle [in Seattle], you know, Pedro Guiang, he got his doctorate of education I think in here, in the University of Washington. He was here then. He came here in 1918. I arrived at his apartment, see. But he was staying with somebody else, you know, so I went to a hotel in Chinatown, Panama Hotel.
"It was hard, the Depression was on at that time. I was lucky enough I arrived on June and July, I went to Alaska, see, for two months. And then when we came back we ... I didn’t have no work again, so I ... went to Franklin High School. But I didn’t stay very long again because it was very hard. You couldn’t even find a schoolboy’s work at that time, see. So I quit again and finally I drifted to going to boxing shows, you know.
Boxing Through Washington
"Every Friday they had boxing shows by 9th and Olive at that time. That’s what they called the Austin and Bishop Gymnasium at that time. So I go there every Friday, they had a show. In fact, I was going while I was going to Franklin High School. Just to watch.
"But it was a funny thing that came up, you know, one guy named Ray Woods was beating everybody in his size, you know. One night I went over there and they asked me if I could fight. 'Sure, I could fight.' And they put me over him. And at that time I was not in very good shape, see, but I was strong because I was an athlete, I was a track man in Franklin High School. It’s hard to believe. So, they put the gloves on, and said 'Are you going to fight?' I was not never scared or anything. I was never nervous, even the doctor, 'How come your heart never even, you know, vary in its beat?' Why should I? It’s just a game to me, a sport, I should say. We fought over there but he got the decision. But that’s how I got started.
"We boxed around Seattle, Everett, Mount Vernon, Yakima, and Wenatchee and Klamathe Falls, Oregon and so on. [I started] somewhere around 1927, ’26, ’27, yeah, I think it was ’26. My name at that time was Young Marino. [The crowds] like Filipinos at that time because they were so many good Filipino fighters. They like me, they, in fact, I fought several good fights, but not money-wise, you know, I fought many men in Wenatchee. In fact, in 1931 I fought the champion of Eastern Canada and Toronto, Canadian, Territory of Alaska at that time. Bantam and Feather Weight. I fought mostly feather-weight. Sometimes, I even fought 129 pounders and I use to weigh 114 to 15. But I had to fight sometimes to live at that time. It was very hard, but what we can get, we could get something to eat and wash our clothes.
"They were quite a few [Filipino boxers], there’s Clarence Corpuz, he was one of them. Johnny, Johnny, I forgot his name, he’s a cook now … but there were quite a few Filipino boys before, but none of them took it ... really serious like I did. I tried to learn because I didn’t want to get beat.
"It’s the opportunity that got me into [teaching] boxing, you know, when I got with the Navy, back in Bremerton –- in Bremerton I didn’t have nothing to do then. But when they transfer you to Pier 91, that is the time when I really taught boxing. That was Korean War, 1949, when I started teaching boxing. As a boxer, I quit in 1933.
"I promise that when my son is born, that when I could go no place, I quit boxing then. I fought the same night he was born ... So, well since I was a champion of Alaska, they book me to fight in Ketchikan, Alaska. But since my son was born, I wanted them to send me some money, you know, advance some money, so I could leave them. They said, you come over here, we’ll fix you. I said, No you’re not going to fix me. So I give the ticket and accommodation to another Filipino boy that use to fight. They were surprise, you know, they had a band that meet him, they were surprised that was not me.
"When my son was eight years old, we was living over there in Greenwood and they had, they started a Greenwood Boys Club over there at that time … I think it was during the war, Japan war. So Dick Francisco was looking for me because my son said, 'My father was a fighter.' So he came to the house. 'Well, I like to help but I’m working, you know how it is at Bremerton. I started so early dark and I arrive here dark, I can’t help you.' 'Well, I just wondered because your son is a natural fighter.' But after the war, just until 1944 … they transfer me to Pier 91 and that time, I met a colored boy and he ask me to train him. Freddy Brown. I know these kids because they were running around with my son then. 'Well, you come to the house with your mother and we’ll talk.'
"So I trained him and he became good. And at that time they started, that was 1950, yeah, during the Korean War then. They have that KING’s RING in television. Then I had so many boys that was winning all the time. I used to train, you know, we train them at the Professional Gymnasium, see over there by Fourth and Wall Street, that use to be a big K-Mart at one time.
"I exercise every morning. Me and my wife, I make my wife exercise too. It’s doing her good. To tell the truth, my wife is my sister-in-law.
"She was the wife of my youngest brother that got killed during the Japanese war. But he was a member of the U.S. armed forces then. So, she was receiving pension when I married her. But when I married her it stopped. But when I first went over there [Mr. Guiang returned to the Philippines in ’67, ’71, and ’74] I never think that we are going to ... When my first wife died, I saw her over there then, well, 'How do you like to come to the states?' I said. Well she refuse at first but then … of course she got a sister you know, Mrs. Domingo Aurelia. That’s her sister. So, she said 'I’ll come see my sister.' Well, she came and she finally consented that she was going to marry me. It was alright, she’s very nice, we get along fine. Well, I consider myself lucky ... I’m fair with people, see.
So, that’s my life here in America.