Noted sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz passed away yesterday morning in San Francisco, California after suffering from cardiac arrest.
He was on his way to Las Vegas to be part of a broadcast panel for Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Jessie Vargas on November 5, when he felt chest pains. After his cardiac arrest, he was under intensive care for a week. On the morning of November 12, his family decided to pull off the life support.
Nathanielsz was 81 years old.
He enjoyed an illustrious career in journalism that started when he was assigned as the liaison officer of the legendary fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, dubbed the “Thrilla in Manila.” After that, he covered the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games from the ’80s to the early ’90s. But it was his coverage and analysis of the boxing scene that made him a household name. In fact, Nathanielsz was one of Pacquiao’s staunchest supporters, calling the boxer a “national treasure” even before rising to fame internationally.
Nathanielsz also wrote for several publications, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Manila Standard Today.
Despite his support and coverage of Philippine boxing, Nathanielsz was hounded for his loyalty to the Marcoses. Not only did former president Ferdinand Marcos assign him his role in the Thrilla in Manila, the president gave him Filipino citizenship in 1973 for his “long and continuous service to the Filipino people in the field of journalism.” Nathanielsz is originally from Sri Lanka.
WheninManila.com sends its heartfelt condolences to the Nathanielsz family.