Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino boxer who has clawed his way from extreme poverty into the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
As a native of Sarangani, he is far removed from the boy who helped catch fish in order to put food on his family’s table. As he is now a man who wears many distinguished hats.
Today, you would not believe how this man manages his time as he divides it daily as a congressman, a businessman, a recording artist, an actor, a commercial model, a devoted father, a loving husband, an evangelist, a pro basketball player/coach, and yes, a boxer. A lesser man would probably throw up his hands in exhaustion and call it a day. But Manny Pacquiao manages to keep on going like the Energizer bunny, finishing all of the tasks he has deemed worthy of his responsibilities.
A Difficult Childhood
Manny Pacquiao was born Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao on December 17, 1978, to Rosalio Pacquiao and Dionesia Dapidran-Pacquiao. The fourth of a brood of six, young Manny was thrust into a life of extreme poverty and soon enough was fending for himself just so he could put food on the family table. After witnessing a local battle amongst rebels and government soldiers just 500 meters from their quaint hut. The family was forced to move into the town of Saranggani for safety, the place where 5-year-old Manny’s budding entrepreneurial skills came into full bloom.
He started out helping local fishermen pull nets so he could have a share of the catch. Half of the fish he received were sold while the other half was eaten by his family. From there, he progressed to selling donuts to earn a living. By then, Rosalio Pacquiao, their father, had left them to start a new family. Undaunted, the young Manny Pacquiao took up the position of head of the family and decided to quit school altogether to focus on making a living for his family.
The Young Boxer
During this time, Manny’s uncle, Sardo Mejia, decided to take Manny under his wing and taught the young boy how to box. With improvised equipment, Manny soon began showing his potential. He showed so much promise that within a year of starting training, his uncle entered him into an amateur match in their town square.
Although Manny had yet to develop the skills he is known for as a world champion, he had speed and power. Within minutes upon entering the ring, Manny conquered his opponent using his classic brawling style of boxing. He pocketed 100.00 PHP (the Philippine currency equivalent of $2.00 USD) for winning that match, and it was the start of his career as a pugilist.
His popularity, owing largely to his boxing style and attitude towards boxing led him to more fights and eventually he competed in the Mindanao Open. During that time, he had to fight every day to secure a medal and the cash prize. From his own account: He won the bronze medal on Thursday, the silver medal on Friday and eventually the Gold medal on Saturday.
With extreme poverty still looming over his family, Manny, now 13 years old, decided to stow away on a boat that took three days to reach Manila in an effort to try his luck there. He ended up in Malabon, and with little money in his pockets at that time, he began living in the gym and sleeping in the ring at night. He continued his training day in and day out, hoping for a chance to get in the ring and win more prize money to send back to his worried mother.
Eventually, he qualified for the Philippine National Amateur Boxing team and was subsidised by the government for his board and lodging. It wasn’t long before Manny Pacquiao got his first amateur fight in Cavite in which ee won by Unanimous Decision, and the rest, as they say, – is history.
The Start of a Pro Boxing Career
As Manny was only 16 at the time of his first professional fight, his body was still developing, becoming bigger and stronger and leading him to rise through the divisions. Starting out at light flyweight, Manny Pacquiao went through 11 opponents before finally being beaten by Rustico Torrecampo. It was the first loss of his professional career.
Immediately following his beating by a more experienced opponent, Manny asked his manager to bump him up to the flyweight division and went through another streak of 15 wins before being knocked out by Medgoen Singsurat. This marked the second loss in his professional career.
Once again, after the defeat, Manny Pacquiao asked to be moved up, desiring a place in the Bantamweight division. He had, at this time, grown by more than 20 pounds since his debut as a 98 pounder when he first entered the ring as a pro. By now, Pacquiao was becoming a more skilled fighter and he eventually won the IBF Super bantamweight title which became his stepping stone up to the flyweight division. Aside from one draw, Manny won all of his fights in the bantamweight division.
One Mexican Legend After Another
His first fight in the featherweight division was against the crowd favorite, Marco Antonio Barrera. This was an event sports pundits referred to as a spectacular fight. Both fighters stood toe to toe against each other in an epic battle to prove to the world which one deserved to wear the featherweight belt. Manny won by technical knockout, the only time Barrera was knocked out his entire career. This was also the first of two losses Barrera suffered at the hands of Pacquiao as they met four years later to slug it out in the ring again.
Barrera wasn’t the only high-profile boxer Pacquiao met in a grudge match. Manny went up against Erik Morales in the super featherweight division, earning his third career loss. Undeterred, Pacquiao faced Erik Morales two more times. In both instances, the Filipino boxer showed the Mexican pugilist who the better fighter was by defeating Morales twice in a row via TKO and KO respectively.
Other Mexican fighters fell to Pacquiao, one after the other, including Hector Velasquez, Oscar Larios and Jorge Solis. The Pacman dealt with all of them in spectacular fashion. By then, he had also gained the nickname “The Mexecutioner” for defeating a quick succession of boxers hailing from Mexico. At this point, there was nowhere else for Manny Pacquiao to go but up.
Climbing to the Top of the Boxing World
Manny Pacquiao eventually found himself in the lightweight division against David Diaz. That match had lasted nine rounds before Diaz succumbed to a TKO, and after the match, Diaz was quoted as saying Pacquiao had lightning speed in his hands. This victory earned the Pacman the title “The people’s champ” in the Philippines. He is also the first Filipino to win a world title in the lightweight division.
Manny once again moved up to a heavier division, welterweight, and went up against his childhood idol, Oscar Dela Hoya. Some say that this match ended Dela Hoya’s career as shortly after his defeat, he retired from boxing altogether. It goes without saying that Manny Pacquiao has rightfully earned his reputation as a gracious and respectful fighter when after the match. He approached dela Hoya with a hug and whispered into the other fighter’s ear that he remained Pacquiao’s idol.
A few months later, Pacquiao had already entered the light welterweight division, facing Ricky Hatton, who was dealt with easily. This was perhaps one of the fastest and most gruesome matches Pacquiao had ever fought. Hatton went down in the second round via a sharp left hook which knocked him out cold. The world watched as Hatton’s body convulsed from the shock of that punch. After that fight, Manny’s fighting style changed as he became more careful of his strength and speed.
Climbing up yet another division, Pacquiao became a welterweight fighter and gave Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey a beating before moving up once again. If there was ever a better comparison to the match Manny Pacquiao had with Antonio Margarito, it would have been: A David and Goliath match inside the ring. The height difference, as well as the reach advantage Antonio Margarito seemed to have over the smaller Pacquiao, did not save him from an intense beating, leaving Margarito’s face a bloody pulp. This was the end of Pacquiao’s climb up the divisions, and he now had six world titles under his name. His return to the welterweight division was welcomed by multitudes of fans who believed this was the best weight class for him. Pacquiao had become the world’s pound-for-pound best fighter, and he had the trophies to show for it.
Stinging Back-to-Back Losses
His welterweight division career was marred when he lost the belt to Timothy Bradley via split decision and a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez which did not end well for the Filipino fighter. Some speculate that Manny Pacquiao did not have his head in the right place during his last fight with Marquez, which ended with “the Mexecutioner” face down on the canvas knocked out cold. By this time, many of Manny’s detractors were telling him to retire and that he was too old to keep on fighting.
Climbing Back to the Top
Undeterred, Manny Pacquiao started training once again and within a year took on another opponent. This was a welterweight matchup with Brandon Rios, a young Mexican boxer who many would say learned a neat boxing lesson from a true champion. After his impressive victory over Rios, Manny Pacquiao got the chance to redeem himself as he was once again pitted against Timothy Bradley. This time, Pacquiao showed Bradley he was the rightful owner of the WBO welterweight title.
To date, Manny Pacquiao has ten world titles to his name. He is also an eight-division world champion. This is a feat no other boxer has duplicated, and perhaps no one ever will.
In the end, Manny Pacquiao will be remembered not only as a champion in the ring but also as a winner in life. His many achievements inside and outside the ring are clear indicators that you can have all of the negative things thrown against you and still come out standing as a stronger, better person.
Adding to his stellar career, Manny Pacquiao has managed to get himself re-elected as a congressman, still performs humanitarian work and he is also an evangelist. He continues to be a devoted husband and father and has rejected his vices, including alcohol and women. Even until this day, he continues to train. This year, Manny Pacquiao went on to face his greatest adversary in the most awaited fight in boxing history against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Slated on the 2nd of May 2015. Although Pacquiao lost the contest by unanimous decision, these two pugilists went on to break records in terms of both revenue and attendance.
After the fight, Manny Pacquiao has said that he may retire in which he has yet to announce.