Philippines, 29 May 2024
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Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao gets inducted by the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame

(L-R) Emmanuel Rivera and Robert Lyons, CEO of StarFlite International

Christmas arrived early for Manny Pacquiao—much earlier than the typical jumpstart to the Holiday Season which traditionally begins on the First of September in the Philippines.

On March 12, 2023, last spring, Manny Pacquiao earned his place among boxing’s greatest champions on Oscar Night, at the very location where the very concept of the Oscars took shape— Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

President Rick Farris, VP Dan Hanley, and the board of directors of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame honored Mr. Pacquiao with a stirring video tribute, a custom bead necklace by Echo Lynn, and a classic Cleto Reyes Glove and painting by famed Filipino artist Jun Aquino.

Nine months have passed since the memorable Banquet of Champions at the Biltmore Bowl ballroom, yet the excitement of celebrating boxing’s past and present legends remains vivid.

Icons like Sugar Ray Robinson, George Foreman, James Toney, Carlos Ortiz, Berry Gordy Jr., Álvaro “Yaqui” López, Carlos Zárate Serna, and Eddie Futch were part of this auspicious event. This prestigious gathering also paid homage to revered individuals such as Gene Lebell, Larry Merchant, Bob Case, Eliza Jane Olson, Jack Reiss, Mike Serrano, Julius Ballo, and others whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the world of boxing.

In the spirit of the Holiday Season, allow me to reminisce about the time when Amie Zonio—the sister of the late Aquiles Zonio who served as Mr. Pacquiao's esteemed press and media officer-in-charge— joined me on stage and honored the great Manny Pacquiao.

We are all Manny Pacquiao.

Good evening.

The 7,641 islands of the Philippines were fertile grounds that produced heroes.

First, there was a man named Lapulapu—the first Filipino Warrior to resist foreign conquerors. His name is etched in the hearts and minds of the Filipino people.

Secondly, there are the Overseas Filipino Workers. They are dedicated soldiers, sailors, healthcare and frontline workers, respiratory therapists, and tonight, the chefs, cooks, and waiters who most likely prepared our feast today.

The most celebrated of all Filipino heroes, then and now, are the boxers.

My late father, Hermie Rivera, used to call them Little Brown Dolls. They were fighters exported to Australia and the United States to save the fight game as early as the 1910s and twenties.

The most accomplished of them all is our next inductee.

Emmanuel Pacquiao, Sr., embodies the Filipino spirit with hard work, ingenuity, and generosity, much like the Filipino heroes that came before him.

He is, just to reiterate what’s already known, boxing’s only 8-division champion. He parlayed his skills and became a congressman, a senator, and ultimately the premier ambassador of The Sweet Science.

He created his MP Promotions to help future champions. His Manny Pacquiao Foundation aims to inspire future humanitarians.

On behalf of the 102 million Filipinos, and 5 million more of Filipino descent worldwide, we thank Mr. Rick Farris, Dan Hanley, and our newfound friends at the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame for honoring one of the best fighters of his era—Manny Pacquiao.

Mabuhay at Salamat.

Long Live and Thank You.

Emmanuel Rivera, Founder and Curator
Philippine Boxing Hall of Fame

(L-R) Amie Zonio and Emmanuel Rivera. Photo by Nate Wren.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.

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