Manny Pacquiao: a sports icon, a symbol of the success of poverty and the pride of the PhilippinesSports
I really don’t like boxing as a sport. The only time I had an interest in boxing in England was when Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali) was on television. When I came to the Philippines 6 years ago, in 2000, I soon realized the popularity of boxing. Even so, he still had no interest.
That changed in 2005. As the year drew to a close, preparation for the Pacquiao-Morales fight in January 2006 was becoming intense, and the extensive coverage of Pacquiao on television, both in the news and in his appearances advertising, made me anticipate the fight. with as much taste as any native Filipino.
When the fight came, I was just as excited as everyone else; the national hero was about to act and I couldn’t wait. However, what he did not expect was the wonderful sporting event that was going to be. Having been educated in the cut and thrust of English football, and having been to countless very exciting football matches with deafening noise from the crowd, I was amazed that a boxing match could generate the same excitement.
For the duration of that first fight (the second in the Pacquiao-Morales series) I was on the edge of my seat half the time. The rest of the time, I was on my feet, jumping up and down with each blow at Morales, yelling and howling along with our neighbors (whom I could hear through the wall). When Morales last fell in that fight, he was ecstatic.
I can honestly say that it was the best sporting event I have ever witnessed, despite being in many classic football matches, including England internationals. Pacquiao’s speed and strength, with his relentless pursuit of his opponent, was exhausting just to watch. Most boxing matches, from the strange flashes I’ve seen over the years, are like men playing pie compared to the continuous action in the Pacquiao-Morales fight. Each round was an important event in itself, and equally exhausting. When that fight ended, I felt exhausted and exhilarated.
Although I was wondering if I could survive another fight like that, such was its intensity, I was expecting a rematch, and yesterday it came. The backlog had seemed even longer this time, and my 2-year-old daughter was already an expert on Pacquiao. He mentions her name and she comes up to me throwing punches at me; However, I doubt that she really understood what Manny was about, until yesterday it was time for the fight.
We had to survive 5 hours of programming before the fight started; We had no idea what time the Pacquiao fight started, so the television was on the entire time. Finally, the last warm-up fight was over and the tension quickly mounted, not just at the venue, but in our home and in millions of other Filipino homes around the world.
I was already excited when we heard that Sarah Geronimo was going to sing the national anthem. What a perfect start: the best singer in the world singing the national anthem. Filipino pride increased with each moment of the hymn; and what inspiration she is. You guessed it, she’s my favorite singer. He was already on Cloud 9 getting into the fight, rooting for Manny at the top of his lungs even before he stepped into the ring. And I’m not even Filipino, just a proud resident; my wife is Filipino and our daughter was also born here.
We were all with our hero when the fight started, and out of breath with the first round exchanges, just like with the previous fight. With Manny looking to get stronger even than before, things were looking good, and we were all jumping when Morales first went down. I’m not sure our daughter really knew exactly why, but she was just as loud as my wife and I, and she jumped just as high.
It was a total blessing for the Philippines when Morales was brought down for the last time. We were at the top for the rest of the day, and we continued like this. While writing the last paragraph, I had to leave the computer to see Manny on a phone call to the television show Wow Wow Wee. The call was typical of Manny, typical Filipino.
Manny was asked to sing a catchy little song that audiences dance to every day on the show. On the phone, he did; without problems, without hesitation.
Manny Pacquiao is typical of the best Filipino characters. Coming from a very poor family, he is now rich and famous. However, unlike many poor boys who are good athletes, Manny remains extremely modest and humble, and a very nice man.
For my part, I am very proud of Manny’s accomplishments; moreover, I am proud of the way he has handled fame and fortune. The Philippines is collectively proud of all of Pacquiao.
Well done Manny, we all love you here in the Philippines. But sure, I’m sure you already know, but you’re too humble to mention it.
As for Erik Morales, he too brought pride to Mexico for many years and maintained his modesty. It didn’t surprise me to learn that he and Manny were having dinner together and were friends. I was thinking that even before the fight, Erik would also be welcome here in the Philippines. His accomplishments and prowess in boxing are sure to be respected. However, not only that, Mexico has close ties with the Philippines, which was also under Spanish rule, administered from Mexico, for more than 300 years.
The Pacquiao-Morales trilogy may be over, but the memories and pride will last forever. Pacquiao achieved massive success, from the worst of beginnings, with dedication, endless hard work, vision, and perseverance. Those are often the cornerstones of any success, but what sets Manny apart is that he has achieved such success while retaining his humility and respect for his fellow men, including Erik Morales.