MANILA, Philippines — I have never had the pleasure of meeting the pride of Philippine boxing Manny Pacquiao, current World Champion many times over, and touted as providing the testosterone – electricity, mega-bucks, and audience for a sport on a (momentary?) decline.
I have heard many good tales woven in the shadow of Pacquiao’s humble beginnings, and how to this day, he has a charitable heart, untaken by success to his head. Several championship belts ago, cousins travelling from the Philippines managed to visit Manny Pacquiao training gym, in the United States. Although the Wild Card Gym was off-limits to media, tourists, etc., with Manny doing his routine for another title fight, luckily, my relatives did get a free pass, partly because some handlers overheard them speak the language of the “people’s champ” — Cebuano. After Manny long practice, he proceeded to the Thai Restaurant beside the gym, and like a true Filipino smiled & invited my relatives to break bread with him. His “kababayan mentality” kicked in with no airs.
A more interesting account better retold by Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia is how a friendship started with Pacquiao, despite politically criticized, initially, by local detractors for being a “Chimoy” in a match to an upcoming pugilist. Manny knew of it & never forgot.
DionisiaThe good City Executive from Negros Occidental is the bemoustached personality often seen carrying the championship belt over his head into the ring behind Manny, & before a global audience. The critics, now silent.
As of this writing, Congressman “Pacman” Pacquiao may have pocketed another $30 million dollars (roughly P1.2B pesos) from beating Shane Mosley. That is aside from the million dollar endorsements reportedly made in the States, and perhaps, winnings from his side bets in Las Vegas for the bout. He is scheduled for a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez this November. But amidst an entire country jubilant over his recent victory, the sport getting another boost, and the bank account of his promoter bulging, there is only one unavoidable question I wish to pose in this national fiesta. A query, also a caring mother can dare ask of herself, & her beloved son (despite a P1M peso Hermes bag, or car/jewelry). Is it not about time for Manny Pacquiao to retire, as he promised?
The issue is no longer about family finances. Nor additional honors & prestige for the Philippines. No title is greater than as the Filipino “People’s Champion’, undefeated in the world. By quiting while ahead, and at the top of his game, makes him not only a Hall of Famer, but his legacy, untouchable.
Boxing has been generous to Manny, his family and the country. Manny, as well, has been also good for boxing. But in the long run, the sport tends to devour its own titans, reducing them into a mortal, bloodied or kissing canvass.
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