Glynn Evans delivers the world of Manny Pacquiao, who seeks to reclaim a Welterweight World Title this Saturday, by munching Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpar, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
1. EARLY LIFE
Emmanuel Dipidran Pacquiao was born in Kibawae, a war-torn fishing community in Bukidnon, Philippines on December 17th 1978, the fourth of six children raised in a one room nipa hut. At the age of five, he witnessed the army kill, then decapitate, rebels in his village.
The family would often go for several days without food and, as young as six, Manny worked as a fisherman’s aid for a small share of the catch.
Whilst in sixth grade, his father left for another woman and Manny assumed the role of male provider for the family. He dropped out of school and absconded to General Santos City where he sold donuts and peanuts on the street.
2. BOXING BEGINNINGS
The 'PacMan' received his first instruction in boxing from an uncle when he was 12. His first punchbag was a banana tree. The following year, he stowed away to Manila, capital of the Philippines, where he scrapped off rust at a metal yard for pesos and found shelter sleeping in the ring at coach Ben Delgado’s boxing gym. He conducted a 60-4 amateur career and finally received board and lodging from the state when he made it on to the national squad.
At 16, just 4ft 11in tall and weighing just seven stone, he decided to pursue a pro career. He lied that he was 18 (the minimum age) and stuck steel ball bearings into his trunks to meet the minimum weight of 105lbs (7st 7lbs).
His earliest purse was just $2, a far cry from nine-figure sum he commanded for his 2015 blockbuster with Floyd Mayweather Jr, which saw him listed as the second highest paid athlete in all sports by Forbes magazine.
3. HISTORY MAKER
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Pacquiao’s 59-7-2 career is the breadth of divisions that he has competed and succeeded in. Beginning half a stone beneath the 105lb Strawweight class, he advanced to win six World Titles - authorised by the four major sanctioning organisations – spanning 10 weight classes (112lb Flyweight to 154lb Super-Welter).
He was formally ordained at Flyweight (WBC), Super-Bantam (IBF), Super-Feather (WBC) Lightweight (WBC), Welterweight (WBO, three times) and Super-Welter (WBC).
Though Manny completely bypassed the 115lb Super-Fly and 118lb Bantamweight classes, he also scooped The Ring Magazine belts at Featherweight and Super-Lightweight which brought recognition from the Guinness Book of Records as the sport’s only eight division World Champion.
4. RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND
Pacquiao was raised a Roman Catholic. He recalls saying the rosary each night as a child and dreamed of entering the Catholic clergy when he reached adulthood.
However, at the height of his fame, he succumbed to a number of vices and, following a fortuitous win in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in November 2011, claims he had a dream in which he heard God’s voice inquire: ‘Why did you leave me?’ Manny immediately sold his bars and casinos, ceased heavy alcohol consumption and womanising, and vowed to follow God’s commandments, converting to Evangelical Protestantism. Today, thousands congregate to hear his testament as a Bible ambassador.
5. SENATOR PACQUIAO
The father of five is a patriotic and philanthropic Filipino who has always matched his words with deeds and service. He has re-invested his ring riches to build several hospitals and churches in his homeland. In 2009, he was conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities from Southwestern University in Cebu City for his humanitarian work.
Since 2006, he has served in the Reserve Force of the Philippines Army and rose to the post of Lieutenant Colonel. In 2007, he hoped to capitalise on the adoration he received in the Republic, to challenge corruption by standing for a seat in the House of Representatives. However, the election coincided with his preparation for an April 2007 fight with Jorge Solis. He won the fight but, ill-prepared, lost the vote.
Nothing if not persistent, he ran again in May 2010, in Sarangani, hometown of his wife Jinkee, and he duly ousted the Chiongbian clan that had reigned there for 30 years. He was re-elected in 2013 and upgraded to Senator in 2016.
6. MAN OF MANY TALENTS
But the Pacmeister certainly isn’t all work and no play. He has starred in several lamentable films such as Wapakman (2009) in which he played Magno Meneses, a plumber with superpowers! An avid ballad singer, he has released two albums and two singles but, like his films, they bombed with the punters. He found marginally more joy in the world of basketball where, in 2014, he become both the oldest (35) and shortest (5ft 6in) draft pick for the Philippine Basketball Association. He served as coach/point guard for the Kia Motors franchise but scored just nine points and played less than 12 minutes in two seasons.
Additionally, he was one of six Filipinos to feature on the cover of Time magazine, elected as (the only non-participator) flag bearer for the 2008 Filipino Olympic team in Beijing and the first Filipino to appear on a postage stamp!
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