A boxer’s life is never easy. Unlike other sports, you can’t let your guard down, even for a second. They don’t refer to guard as a position in boxing for nothing. There’s no doubt that the sport takes guts. It’s not just about beating the crap out of people, it’s about getting thrashed and having the balls to let your blood hit the mat after being socked on the chin. And you always get socked one time or the other, don’t you?
It actually depends on how good your opponent is. But people always have some weakness. The one opponent that always proves tough is life itself. It will beat you down when you least expect it, it will pound on you when you think you can’t take any more blows and it will always keep you on your toes. So how do you defeat an opponent like that?
As difficult as the execution maybe, the answer is quite simple and it lies with Pac-Man himself – ‘Become fearless!’
Manny Pacquiao did not have an easy childhood. His family lived in extreme poverty. So much so that he had to drop out of school. He had to sleep on the streets on some days. The family could not afford food most days, so he ate only one meal a day. Things only got worse. His father left the family because of his extra-marital affair.
His only relief, his only break from the frustrating life was boxing. A young Manny said that one day he would become world champion. I’m sure a lot of people have said that. But it takes unparalleled commitment to actually become one. Commitment that this young Filipino kid showed from the beginning.
The beginning is what mattered most. It is ingrained in him. The toughest part of his life. That is probably why he never forgets where he came from. He still goes back home, not as a champion but as a local. The only difference is that he did not have enough food to eat earlier and now he puts food on the table for as many as possible.
We’ll get to the boxing part in a bit. When he started his professional career, he had already overcome the biggest opponent. He had it in his head that one day he would be the greatest boxer. That thought, that mindset never changed. He once said, “Why do I box? Why do I fight? Because it’s God’s will.”
Somehow, deep down, he already knew it. That he is meant to be in the ring. The story of the real Pac-Man occurred when he was growing up. Fights in the ring matter far less than the fights he had outside of it. A bully was teasing Manny’s younger brother for being “poorer then dirt”. A few seconds later, that bully was on the floor. A left jab from a 10-year-old Manny had floored him.
You’d think that a guy who comes from such a tormenting childhood would actually be angry with the world and use it as his weapon. I can tell you that you’re wrong. He walks out for every fight smiling and waving at his fans. It’s tough to imagine that he’s always ready to forgive a world that had been cruel to him. He also forgave his father for abandoning the family and now they are as close as family again.
So where do you think the anger lies? I’ll tell you. He got rid of it. The hours of training, the days of hardships and the years of fighting. Years that turned him into a fighting machine.
A machine that ended up being the only boxer in history to become an eight-division world champion, having conquered 11 major world titles. He’s also the 1st one to win the lineal championship in 5 different weight categories. And Manny is only the 3rd boxer to win world titles in 3 of the original 8 boxing weight divisions – flyweight, featherweight, and welterweight – also known as glamour divisions.
When he had enough money, and God knows he has loads of it now, he took a high school equivalency test that made him eligible for college education. He got a high school Diploma and got himself enrolled for a degree in business management at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University.
The man also built an entire village, right where he had floored the bully. It’s an area called Tango. And the village is now called Pacman village (How cool is that?). Manny also funded the construction of many other villages near this hometown of General Santos City. He keeps visiting the school he had to leave when he was just 10 and makes generous donations. His teacher too knew that he would one day be famous. She says, “I am not surprised he is so famous because when I got angry with Manny and his classmates, I told them, ‘You can do what you like when you are rich. In the meantime, I am your teacher and you will obey me,’ and he is grateful to her.
As for the boxing part, many thought he was done after losing the famed Mayweather Fight, titled the ‘Fight of the Century’. If you watched it, you might agree that the decision against him was controversial. But that’s not for us to discuss. The more important part is that he did not retire, he came back to fight again. Two title matches and he won both through a unanimous decision. The Mayweather fight is not the judging stick of his career. His stats are impressive and speak volumes.
Out of 67 fights, he was lost only 6 and drawn 2. The man has 59 victories to his name, out of which 39 were knockouts.
So what else was left? Well… He’s also a professional basketball player/coach in Philippines’ official league for Mahindra Floodbusters.
But that’s just a small part of an incredible story that history will pen down. Manny’s love for the people is what really makes him so famous and adored. He made sure that he performs all his duties once he was elected as part of the senate.
Yes, that happened too. He even rescheduled his bouts. His trainers and close ones say that he misses the ring, he misses training and that those are the places where his happiness really lies. But according to Manny, he made a promise to the people and he will fight to keep it.
The man went through hell as a kid, came out leaving his anger behind but with a fist full of talent & passion. Through it all, he remains humble. He loves the people around him and makes sure that he keeps them happy.
A patriot willing to do everything for his country and its people. The world needs more men like him.
Oh and don’t forget, he remains the greatest, the most entertaining and the most relentless pound-for-pound boxer the sport has ever seen and he’s still going.
The nickname – Pac-Man – suddenly makes more sense now, the hunger never seems to end!