From street kid to superstar, Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao's incredible journey

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) exchanges punches with Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight unification championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (AFP file)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) exchanges punches with Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight unification championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP file)

Manila - Pacquiao has risen to national hero status in the country, but he has also earned plenty of detractors with his support for a deadly drug war



By AFP

Published: Wed 29 Sep 2021, 2:27 PM

Philippine superstar Manny Pacquiao’s rise from street kid to world champion boxer and presidential hopeful is a source of pride to many in the poverty-afflicted country.

The eight-division world champion’s announcement on Wednesday that he was hanging up his gloves after a decades-long career comes as he prepares for a rumble to replace President Rodrigo Duterte in 2022.

Pacquiao has risen to national hero status in the country, but he has also earned plenty of detractors with his support for a deadly drug war.

Pacquiao’s rags to riches story began on the mostly poor southern island of Mindanao where he was born on December 17, 1978, to a deadbeat father and a devout Catholic mother.

Manny Pacquiao celebrates after winning the bout against Lucas Matthysse in 2018. (Reuters file)
Manny Pacquiao celebrates after winning the bout against Lucas Matthysse in 2018. (Reuters file)

Pacquiao grew up in General Santos City. He dropped out of high school at 14, sold doughnuts on the roadside and became a grocery stacker to help his mother support two younger siblings.

He turned pro-boxer at 17.

Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion, is considered one of the best boxers of all time.

He made his professional debut against fellow Filipino boxer Edmund Enting Ignacio on January 22, 1995 — and won.

A volume power puncher with lightning-fast footwork, the southpaw racked up 62 wins, eight losses and two draws in a career spanning 26 years.

He briefly retired in 2016 before returning to the ring.

Manny Pacquiao during a senate hearing in Manila. (AFP file)
Manny Pacquiao during a senate hearing in Manila. (AFP file)

After a two year layoff — and at an age when most boxers have already quit the sport — Pacquiao suffered a comprehensive defeat to a younger Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas in August.

It turned out to be Pacquiao’s last professional fight.

Announcing Pacquiao’s retirement on Twitter, ESPN said the boxer was “pound-for-pound, one of the greatest to ever step in the ring.”

Pacquiao began his political career in 2010, first as a congressman and then in 2016 he won a high-profile position in the Senate.

He has made no secret of his ambitions for the country’s highest office and on September 19 declared he was running for the presidency in the 2022 elections.

Analysts have questioned whether Pacquiao’s huge popularity as a boxer will translate into enough votes at the ballot box.

Critics accuse him of lacking intellect and being a frequent no-show in the Senate, raising questions about his ability to run the country of 110 million people.

A survey released on Wednesday by PulseAsia Research showed Pacquiao in fourth spot among the frontrunners to succeed Duterte.

Boxing has bought Pacquiao fame, power, influence and wealth, and with it, the vices: gambling, cockfighting and romantic links to beautiful film stars that at one point nearly wrecked his marriage.

But in 2012 Pacquiao, now a father of five, found religion and left his playboy lifestyle behind.

A fervent evangelical Christian, Pacquiao has publicly opposed divorce, abortion and contraceptives.

Religion looms large in Pacquiao’s personal and professional decisions, telling AFP in a recent interview that he relied on his faith to ward off Covid-19.

After weeks of speculation, Pacquiao announced he is quitting the sport that made him one of the world’s greatest and wealthiest boxers.


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