By Superstar Billy Graham
The superstar Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao is not immune to detractors and critics. Even greats Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Wayne Gretzky and even Muhammad Ali had their share of critics. But when it comes to Manny Pacquiao, The Superstar Billy Graham has not heard this much criticism of a fighter who is not very vocal or remotely trash talking. In fact, Manny is very pious on his status as being the “fighter of the decade” and recognized as one of the greatest fighters in history. Manny Pacquiao doesn’t recognize himself as the greatest but feels honestly thankful for what boxing has given him. And many times, he deflects any comparison of being a great fighter but instead opts to say “I fight for the fans of boxing and I want to entertain the boxing fans”. Never uttered a single word proclaiming he is the greatest boxer. If you look at Manny’s biography it is amazing to see where he came from and where he is now. The Superstar Billy Graham will give a brief biography of Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao was born in December 17, 1978 at Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines. Manny was the 4th child of 6 sibling of Rosalio and Dionisia Pacquiao. Manny’s father left the family when Manny was just only 6 and Manny mother Dionisia was left to take care the 6 children all by herself. Living in the General Santos city, Manny grew up in extreme poverty. Often they would be fed only once a day. When Manny turned 14, he left his home so his mother could help feed his brother and sisters. Dionisia could not afford to feed all 6 children so Manny left to Manila to pursue boxing, earn some money in boxing and construction to help his mother raise his brothers and sisters.
That’s how it is in the Philippines. Manny made only $100 peso per fight which was $2 USD and Manny at days was homeless and eating one meal a day even while boxing. Many days when Manny fought, he had difficult time making weight and often malnourished. Again, that’s how it was in the Philippines.
Finally turning 16 years old, Manny Pacquiao turned professional so he can earn more money to help his family. It wasn’t Manny’ s intention from the beginning to pursue boxing as his livelihood but more of a necessity. Even as a pro boxer, Manny was still malnourished, and continually had a tough time making weight often using bits of metal he gets from his construction job, placing those bits of metal inside his pocket to make weight.
When boxing experts in the Philippines began to notice they had a talented boxer in their hands, Manny began to see that fighting can be his true profession and it may give him a good living. The people who were with Manny knew they need to fight in the United States to make the big money and need a trainer that can take him to the next level. Manny Pacquiao was sent to the United States to find himself a trainer that will not only take him in but take his skills to a different level.
There were a few trainers that balked on Manny Pacquiao because they weren’t interested in an Asian boxer. Finally faith came just before Manny was scheduled to leave and go back to the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao was told about a gym in Los Angeles called The Wild Card Gym owned by boxing trainer Freddie Roach. Manny was able to meet with Freddie just before he left to Philippines. What Freddie saw was a talented yet undisciplined one handed fighter in his hands who threw a lot of punches and decided to take Manny in and the rest became history.
From where Manny Pacquiao was and to where he is now, is something we can only read in novels or see in movies. A true rags to riches story. Manny’s religious upbringing is something his mother Dionisia often instilled in all of her children. To be humble and gracious is to respect God. From the homeless teenager to being a congressman of the same province he grew up is beyond amazing. Not only the riches he has made in boxing but being respected, given accolades and awards by people in the boxing business is another addition to the legacy of Manny Pacquiao.
Who would have thought a homeless teenager in 15 years just became a congressman and a multi millionaire. A fighter who came from the deepest extreme poverty to accomplish in such a short period. An endorser of NIKE, and now associated with Disney. It is simply amazing. For those who are critics of Manny Pacquiao, judge hm as a person first before a boxer. Manny Pacquiao has made use of the millions he made from boxing. He helped open schools, scholarships, clinics and hospitals. He is now crusading on behalf of he poor for which he can truly associate himself in their position. There is speculation that Manny will pursue becoming a Senator and then possibly entertain the idea of becoming the President of the Philippines by the time he is 40. At this moment, Manny Pacquiao has enrolled in the University of Philippines to further his education. He knows hard work and knowledge is the key to success, for which Manny has attributed to his boxing success.
When Manny Pacquiao decides to retire from the sport of boxing, there will be a big void in boxing. But hopefully others will come forward and represent boxing in a positive light and respect the sport of boxing. We can all reflect when Manny has been retired boxing for many years and think back how much excitement this fighter brought to the sport of boxing. How he respected the sport and the boxing fans. Manny has already cemented his legacy and only time will tell if Manny Pacquiao will receive the same status with the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and all the other boxing greats.
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