May 8, 2011

Big Hearted Boxer Manny Pacquiao

I wanted to tell you a story today about a boxer named Manny Pacquiao.  ‘Pac-man’ as he’s sometimes called is currently the World’s Boxing Organization Welterweight Champion.  That means that for his weight grouping, he’s the best in the world.  That’s pretty cool, but what I think is even cooler is how he treats people.
Most successful boxers beat the pulp out of their opponents, even when it’s clear that he’s won the fight.  Manny stops once he knows he’s won.  In a recent fight, he stopped the fight to ask his opponent if he was okay.  When people told him he should have knocked him out, he said, “It’s a sport and I didn’t have to hurt him.  I beat him up enough.”  He’s been called the ‘most compassionate fighter’ people have ever known.  Once, when winning a fight with one of his idols, his coach had to urge him to knock him out.  “At the end of the seventh round, I said, ‘Manny, your job is to knock him out.’  I’ve never said that to another fighter in my life.”  Manny just didn’t want to end his idol’s winning streak.
Most boxers trash talk their opponents, to hype up the fight and to intimidate their opponent.  Manny speaks highly of his opponents.  He said, “I never believed that you had to say bad things about your opponent to make yourself bigger.  You can be popular or be a champion without trash talking.  And you can be a good example for people, especially children.” 
And most successful boxers make a lot of money.  Usually they spend it on nice cars and big homes, and lots of fancy things.  Manny gives it away.  He earned $32 million dollars last year, as one of the world’s top earning athletes, and he gave lots of it away.  As he walks around his hometown, he hands out money.  His trainer said, “[My biggest concern is that he’ll] give it all away.  He’s that good of a guy.  I hope it never happens.”
Why is he like this?  I think it’s because Manny was once a little hungry boy.  He was born in the Phillippines and begged for food and money as a child.  He began fighting at age 14 to support his mother and her six children.  He knows what hunger feels like and he wants to help others who are hungry too.  He said, “Every time I saw poor people sleeping in the street, it made me think that one day I hoped I could help them.”  
In May 2010, Manny was elected to the Phillippines House of Representatives for the province of Sarangani.  As a Congressman, he visited with President Obama at the White House on behalf of a job-creating bill for the clothing sewing industry in his homeland.  “More than a mere boxer, he is a lawmaker, philanthropist, singer, spokesman and bona fide hero to the masses of his impoverished homeland,” says article writer Jon Saraceno.  
I know I didn’t mention the ‘singer’ part.  He actually sings lullabies to his 4 children.  And he loves to sing love songs to his fans on Karaoke machines.  Not very macho, but very sweet. 
Anyway, I like Manny Pacquiao because he hasn’t forgotten his difficult childhood.  He’s rich and famous, but will never forget who he is.  One reporter said, “He can’t shake his past, even if he is earning millions.  He knows he came from nothing.  He knows what it is like to be poor, to beg for food and money.”   Manny said it best when he said, “I always pray.  Without God, we have nothing.  I give Him thanks.  It’s common sense.  Without God, we are not here.  He created us and the universe.  It is very simple.”  
Saturday, May 7th, Manny won another fight, billed as the fight of the year.  He won by knocking out his opponent in the third round.  He will bring home $20 million, most of which will probably end up in the hands of those who need it more than he does.

For more information, see:
Saraceno, Jon. "Mosley has 'own set of weapons'." USA Today 6 May 2011: C12.
—. "Packing a punch for humanity." USA Today 5 May 2011: C1-2.

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