Manny Pacquiao – A Modern Day Philippine Hero
When it comes to the Philippines and sports there are the four B’s: Bowling, Badminton, Basketball, and thanks largely to Manny Pacquiao – Boxing. Although I am not an avid supporter of the sport, experiencing a Pacman fight in the Philippines is a must for anyone, as it is not just the match but also the emotion of the crowd that becomes quite a spectacle.
A brief Biography
Born in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao and now residing in South Cotabato (That’s right, the island of Mindanao is not all about bombs and war as people actually live quite happily there too), Pacquiao is considered to be a champion of the people as he comes from the working class. He started his professional boxing career at the young age of 16 and since 1995 he has accumulated a record of 2 draws, 3 losses, and an amazing 50 wins, 40 of which came by way of KO or TKO. As a result, Manny Pacquiao has become somewhat of a living legend in the Philippines.
Photo by Frederick Manligas Nacino (Opusdeiphotography)
Not only has Pacqiao set numerous records in the boxing world, he has also given the sport new publicity and brought it back to life. His success has also instilled a greater deal of national pride in the average Filipino. Any time he fights, it is said that the crime rate in the Philippines stalls or drops to zero because everyone is glued to the TV screen watching him fight. In fact, most Filipino’s will proudly tell you that the Pacman is the “Number one pound for pound boxer”. This is the title given to Pacquiao by Ring Magazine. But his list of titles doesn’t stop there.
Just to name a few of his titles, he is the WBC World Flyweight Champion, IBF World Super Bantamweight Champion, WBC World Super Featherweight Champion, WBC World Lightweight Champion, WBC World Welterweight Champion, OPBF Flyweight Champion, WBC International Super Bantamweight Champion, WBC International Super Featherweight Champion, IBO World Light Welterweight Champion, World Featherweight Champion, 2006 and 2008 fighter of the year, 5 time PSA sportsman of the year, 2008 WBC Boxer of the year, and also one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people (Heroes and Icons category). He is also famed for being the first person to win seven world titles in seven weight divisions. This is possible due to the fact that he has moved up in weight class over the years from the Light Flyweight Class all the way to Welterweight where he now sits.
But aside from boxing, Pacquiao also has political aspirations and a music career. If you tuned into Jimmy Kimmel Live recently you would have seen the Pacman serenading his fans with the song “Sometimes when we touch”. He also has a movie career and numerous advertising and sponsorship deals. However, to find out more about Pacquiao outside of the ring you can grab a copy of Paquiao: The Movie, released in 2006.
For the recent fight against Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto, I was lucky enough to be at Legaspi Market in Makati. On one side of the market a small flat screen TV had been set up and as the fight started everyone in the market gradually gravitated towards it. In fact, I believe that by the 9th or 10th rounds of the fight a few stall owners were getting annoyed that Cotto wouldn’t stay down as they wanted to get back to selling as there were little or no customers. As the fight went on, the crowd around the screen became larger by the second. At one point in the 4th round I turned around and saw that nobody was shopping as Pacquiao had their undivided attention.
The first round easily went to Cotto, but from there on the Pacman began to dominate. As a result of Pacquiao’s fighting prowess, the Oooooh’s and Aaaah’s from the crowd became louder and more frequent as people packed in tighter around the little TV. I almost became a little too involved in the action myself when a large Filipino woman started shadow boxing beside me. Luckily I dodged her elbow before it connected.
By around the 6th round it began to be clear that Pacuiao would be the likely victor, and the regular sounds of the crowd became interspersed with chants of “Manny, Manny, Manny!” In between the rounds, as the crowd saw close up shots of Cotto’s face it elicited laughter from some members of the crowd and each time Cotto fell to the ground huge cheers and applause broke out. Then, as Cotto’s white satin shorts became more and more soaked with blood many remarked “Wow! He’s a bleeder.” As Cotto’s lips swelled to a size that would have made Angelina Jolie jealous and he staggered and dropped his guard calls of “Finish him!” could be heard. Everyone knew it was all over and in the 12th round, Pacquiao was declared winner by TKO. Happy cheers rang out and everyone wore a huge smile as they returned to their business.
The experience of the crowd is not one I will forget soon. When Pacquiao fights it seems to bring all people together. While there were many Filipinos watching the fight there were also quite a few foreigners as well. Total strangers discussed the fight, shook hands and exchanged smiles once it has all ended and a feeling of camaraderie permeated the crowd. And although I am not a fan of boxing, the experience of being there for a Paquiao fight is one I wouldn’t mind going through again. I hear that Paquiao’s coach is pushing for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., so I guarantee I’ll be seeking out a big public viewing if that fight ends up happening and I advise anyone who hasn’t seen a Paquiao fight in the Philippines to do the same.
Scott M. Allford has lived and worked in Australia and South Korea and has travelled extensively throughout Asia- Mongolia, China, Tibet, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan – fell in love with the Philippines and decided to allocate at least two years to comprehensively cover the country.
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