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article imageOp-Ed: Manny Pacquiao 'too young' to be President, but may be one day

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 19, 2015 in Sports
Boxing fans in North America, and the rest of the world for that matter, are not fully aware of how much Manny Pacquiao means to his country. The Pac-Man is a hero there, and not just for his prowess in the ring, which naturally does his country proud.
Pacquiao not qualified - yet
His boxing of course is the biggest part of his resume, boxing has made him, according to the Forbes 2014 rankings, the world's 11th richest athlete (yes, Floyd Mayweather tops that list). He was, after all, named Fighter of the Decade for the first decade of this century by three big boxing bodies, the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
But there is so much more and when the question was asked of him in a media event on Wednesday if he was ready to be president of his country, those back home would not have been surprised if he had said yes.
His promoter, Bob Arum, said he thinks that Pacquiao will run for the office by 2022, but the boxer himself was not about to admit to anything. "I'm not qualified," Pacquiao told the media, looking very relaxed with the question. "I don't have that in my mind. I'm young."
That certainly sounds like a politician. He did not say "no, never, I'm an athlete, I will never be qualified to be president.' Will he? A glance at the rest of his resume will answer that question.
From poverty to hero
Emmanuel 'Manny' Dapidran Pacquiao is so much more than a boxer. He is also a singer, an actor, a co-owner of a popular Filipino basketball franchise and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve Force of the Philippine Army. And there is this: he is Congressman Pacquiao, having first been elected in 2011 at age 32 to the Philippine House of Representatives. He won re-election in 2013 and continues to represent the district of Sarangani.
He and his wife, Jinkee, who have five children, are devoutly religious and do a great deal of charity work in their country. But he did not always have the tools to help others, he once needed help himself. When young he dropped out of formal school because his family was so impoverished. Moving from General Santos City at age 14 to Manila, he spent time living on the streets.
Ring Magazine's three-time Boxer of the Year's rise to becoming one of the most recognizable names in the world is a story that would inspire anyone, anywhere. But in a country like the Philippines, where hope is so sought after by the legions of poor, it is a story that is worshiped. Every detail is known to Filipinos — they watch his every move.
His charity work includes the Manny Pacquiao Charity Foundation, which helps underprivileged persons, and a lottery outlet he owns, one that takes the money and applies it to charitable organizations.
He is so revered that when he fights the country's crime rate plummets — the bad guys are too busy watching to commit crimes. On his own, Pacquiao has elevated his country's status in the world and almost every Filipino, and there are over 100 million of them, will be tuned in one way or another to cheer for him when he fights Mayweather. He is an icon at 36.
The future for Pacquiao
A win in the superfight May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against Floyd Mayweather would cap one of the great careers in boxing and send Filipinos all over the world into a frenzy of adulation for Pacquiao. That's his focus and he is too young to be thinking of the presidency. His attendance record in Congress, where he works hard when there, and gets results, is poor, but his fellow members support his absences, they want his boxing to continue bringing glory to the Philippines.
But he has spoken of retirement, at his age it must come soon. And whether he speaks of it now or not, and whether he is consciously orchestrating his every move for it, the Pac-Man is setting himself up to one day be the president of his country.
Despite their fame, politics is not a place that athletes often go, especially boxers, and the odds of one becoming the president of their country are very long indeed. Unhappily, many boxers are just trying to cope with health-issues after a few decades of fighting.
But that impoverished kid from the streets of Manila, that fighter who steps into the ring in Las Vegas next month, should never be counted out.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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