In a recent interview with Gareth Davies of Telegraph.co.uk
, popular boxing promoter Bob Arum said, ‘Manny Pacquiao is the most unique fighter I have ever promoted’ In the same interview he said, Muhammad Ali was beloved and larger than life but it wasn’t the same as Pacquiao. Look outside, it’s a work day in London and the place is loaded with Filipino people coming just to look at the guy’ (Gareth and Arum were at the London’s Imperial War Museum during the interview).
During Pacquiao short visit to London and Manchester to promote his forthcoming fight with Ricky Hatton, sportswriters and other media people have noticed that Pacquiao is very popular in England with TV footages showing British people reaching for his hands and wanting to be photographed with him.
Arum added in the same interview with Gareth, ‘Universally, Ali, as an athlete, was the most popular sportsman I’ve seen, including Pacquiao. But I am talking about one people, one nation, plus the 11 million Filipinos around the world, the 3 million around the US, Manny is the man they look to, the most popular I have ever known. I go any place in the world and if an Asian come up to me, to touch me, I know they are Filipinos. And it’s because of Manny. It’s really incredible’.
But really, what make many Pacquiao so popular? And why is he so loved and admired by so many, not just Filipinos but all citizens of the world?
More than what Gareth and Bob Arum said, Manny has unique qualities indeed as Arum explained. One of best known qualities is his humility. Manny Pacquiao seldom puts his opponent down. He looks at them with respect. In his recent fight with Oscar de la Hoya, he never spoke badly of him. In fact he told Oscar before the fight that he is his idol even before he became a world champion himself. After winning over Oscar, his parting word was; ‘You are still my idol’.
In many of his professional fights he spoke highly of his opponents, showing them some kind of respect and decency. And for this natural gesture from him, he is loved not only by his countrymen but even by people who are strangers to him.
In his home country, the Philippines, he is an embodiment of a true Filipino character. He identifies himself with the poor. He speaks their ‘language’. In real life, he was one of them. He was once a poor kid trying to make both ends meet. He slept in a cardboard on side streets during the night when he worked as a cigarette vendor to support his family.
When he became popular and attained extraordinary success in his professional career, he began sharing his prize money to the poor people in his hometown.
Due to lack of formal education, Pacquiao managed to find time to pursue higher education. He was able to accomplish his dream to finish his studies. He took a government examination for a high school diploma equivalent and passed. He is now pursuing a college degree in a local university.
During his last few fights, he became world champion in different divisions, earning for him millions of dollars in prize money. He became an instant multi-millionaire. First thing he did was to secure his own family and relatives, giving them their own homes and setting up income-generating businesses to support their own families. Having accomplished his wishes for his own family, he began spreading and sharing his wealth to other people who would need help. To institutionalize his charity work, he set up a foundation to help people in need, giving scholarship to poor kids, giving money for the hospitalization of cancer victims, and making funds available for projects with social relevance.
Being a popular celebrity in his own country, Pacquiao has become a role model for the entire Filipino people especially the youth. He also spoke highly of his own mother for having brought him up as a God-fearing person that he is today.
Wherever he goes, be it in his home country or elsewhere in the world, Manny Pacquiao is so popular and so well loved even by strangers who happen to cross his path.
Two of the most influential people in the professional life of Manny Pacquiao often speak highly of the famous Filipino boxer. Freddie Roach, who served as his trainer for over eight years could not believe the kind of discipline that Pacquiao would show whenever he trains for a big fight. When he is asked to do run five miles as part of his work out, he would do ten. Similarly if he is asked to do five rounds with a sparring partner, he would do more than that. And most of the times, his sparring partner will just give up and surrender.
Bob Arum, who is Manny’s promoter for a couple of years now, is so amazed at how fans would speak highly of Manny more than any popular boxer he ever handled as promoter. It’s just incredible, he said.