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MANNY PACQUIAO -- PORTRAIT OF A SPIRITUAL FIGHTER


PhilBoxing.com




No one would ever think this skinny poverty stricken boy who used to sell bread and doughnuts in the streets of General Santos City, Philippines would later become the world’s first & only eight-division world champion - a legendary feat that has made him one of the richest and greatest boxers of all time. He was named "Fighter of the Decade" by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). He was also featured on the cover of Time magazine as “The Great Hope.” Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao despite his accomplishments has remained humble and has continued to inspire millions of people around the world.

The Pacman’s rise to stardom is the stuff Hollywood pictures are made of. A captivating “rags to riches” story, his rise from poverty to prosperity, is truly inspiring. A future Hall of Famer, there may never be another man in history who can duplicate or surpass his feat. Also known as a “People’s Champion”, Manny is a true gentleman in and out of the ring. He is charitable beyond measure. In fact, a lot of people fear that he may end up with nothing with the rate by which he gives or spends money for others.

Manny prays before the fight, during the fight, and after the fight. He kneels and prays for his safety & that of his opponents. This has become quite a fixture that Nike even decided to use his image of kneeling down the corner in prayer as a billboard ad with the caption “Give us this day”. Manny is always careful to give credit to God for he knows that without Him he couldn’t do anything.

After his lopsided win over Oscar dela Hoya he declared "Nothing is impossible, so long as you keep God in your heart and in your mind." That fight turned De La Hoya’s face in a grotesque mask but more importantly it echoed another bible story “David versus Goliath”. I for one thought that Oscar was too big for Manny but then again he proved a lot of us wrong.

After his devastating loss to his arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez wherein he was knocked out cold and was down on the canvas for a few scary minutes, Manny showed the world how to bounce back from adversity and rise from the ashes by pummeling the younger and bigger Brandon Rios in 12 grueling but one-sided rounds. A lot of people thought then that it was the end of Pacquiao. He wasn’t just victorious but actually made Rios cry after the fight. More importantly, he gave hope to Filipinos who were just reeling from the ravages of the world’s most debilitating storm: Yolanda.

The Pacman is not alone. The sweet science is filled with exciting spiritual fighters:

No other than the great warrior Evander Holyfield the 2nd man in history to win the heavyweight title 3 times says that “Boxing is 90% spiritual 10% Physical”. Holyfield proudly inscribed (Phil. 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” on his robe and shorts during his fights.

Nearly 20 years from his loss to Ali, George Foreman who was a former Olympic gold medalist and an ordained Christian minister won the WBA heavy weight championship in 1994 at the age of 45 knocking out Michael Moorer in the 11th round, becoming the oldest man in history to capture the heavyweight title. Now, this bully turned fighter then minister goes all around the world promoting Jesus Christ the saviour instead of George Foreman the fighter.

Pacquiao fights undefeated American Timothy Bradley in a grudge match on April 12 in Las Vegas. In an interview with Max Kellerman, he said in reference to Bradley’s proud demeanor “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt 23:12). During the same interview whereby Bradley kept on insisting that Pacquiao has lost his fire, he added...With God All things are possible (Matt 19:26).

Manny who is also known as a fighting congressman stated “The most important thing as a leader is your relationship with God.” Manny’s humility, hard work, dogged determination, generosity and faith has made him immortal in the hearts and minds of people. His gripping and dramatic story lives on and continues to inspire Filipinos to be hopeful in the face of tremendous odds.

Win or lose Manny has shown us that his unwavering faith in God has led him to where he is now. By the grace of God he has achieved true greatness in the midst of life’s most arduous circumstances.

In one interview Pacquiao quips “All I can say is, If God is with you who can be against you?”



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Paul S. Pereyra.


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