People of Baguio and elsewhere in the northern highlands are mourning the untimely demise of five-time Mr. Asia overall champion Simeon “Sammy” Ayochok.
The city council joined in the mourning by passing a resolution extending the city government’s condolences.
As of press time, efforts are being undertaken to repatriate the remains of Ayochok from Shanghai, China, where he passed away on July 16. He was 56.
In a resolution unanimously approved by the city council, it said that Ayochok served as great model to sports enthusiasts to believe in their dreams.
“The prestige and honor he had given to the city, the Cordilleras, and the country is remarkable and has been a source of motivation to his fellow athletes, and also of other young bodybuilding athletes who are still taking their first steps in the bodybuilding industry,” the resolution reads.
It added, “Ayochok’s fame and contribution would be truly unforgettable and will remain as one of the foundations in the sports industry in the City of Baguio and in the Cordilleras, particularly in the bodybuilding field.”
Mayor Mauricio Domogan also expressed his sympathies to Ayochok’s family, as he vowed the city would continue to help coordinate with the Chinese authorities for the repatriation of the man once called the “Igorot Hercules.”
As the news about his passing spread worldwide, more athletes and sports enthusiasts claimed that Ayochok had inspired them to take sports seriously.
Bodybuilder turned photojournalist Larry Fabian credited Ayochok for popularizing the scientific method of bodybuilding in the local scene, which greatly contributed to the success of younger bodybuilders.
Bodybuilding enthusiast and lawyer Delmar Cariño, now chief of the Human Resource and Legal Division of Benguet Electric Cooperative, would also recall Ayochok for always reminding his students to observe international standards in bodybuilding even during workouts in his Asian Fitness Center at Brookside.
Even international action star Jean Claude Van Damme swiftly obliged when Ayochok instructed him to wear a shirt when the Igorot body builder served as fitness instructor in Hong Kong.
Ayochok’s daughter-turned lawyer Genevieve shared to reporters Monday they miss the noise inside the gym at Brookside after it was closed down when their father went to China as senior consultant of Megafit.
Genevieve and sister Christine are closely working with government officials while their other sister, Aprille Balangue, who is in the United States, is expected to arrive soon.