It’s almost impossible to predict where the next boxing megastar will emerge from. The modern setting of an expensive American boxing club, or the spit and sawdust type gym from a less wealthy homeland. All too often, the kids with promise take different routes, tempted by other opportunities, ones that aren’t as demanding as the physical and mental rigours of the fight game. There’s no easy way, no short cut to the top, to make it in this game you have that extra something, that heartfelt desire that won’t let you quit despite your body’s plea. The surroundings are merely aesthetics, what truly counts lies within a warrior and not the financial cost of the equipment he uses to master his craft.
One man who can testify this is the Philippine legend Manny Pacquiao. We all know the man he is today, but the story behind the sculpting of this modern-day great is nothing short of astonishing.
Born Emmanuel Dapridan “Manny” Pacquiao on December the 17th 1978. One of six siblings his upbringing, was hard. Money wasn’t something that the family would have the fortune to possess much of and by time Manny was 14 his parents had split, he had quit his education and left the family home, his mother wasn’t in a financial position to support such a large family singlehandedly.
To earn money Manny would buy doughnuts from a local shop and sell them on at a profit of one nickel. His only shelter was a cardboard box, who could imagine that 22 years later the same man would be battling it out for a world record payday.
Pacquiao would board a ship to Manilla in an attempt to start a boxing career. He saw this as a way out of the squallier, doughnut sales only barely made enough revenue to survive, Boxing however offered some hope. Then in January 1995 at just 16 years old Manny would have his first professional bout, a bout that would be the start of something uniquely special. This debut saw him win a unanimous decision over four rounds, his career had started. Pacquiao would win 11 fights in a row, but this streak would end when he faced Rustico Torrecampo.
Manny would fail to make weight in this fight and as a punishment was ordered to wear heavier gloves than his experienced opponent. Pacquiao would lose by stoppage, some say it was the shoulder that caused the young Manny to fall to the canvas. Other TV angles seem to show a borderline shot to his beltline, none of these excuses would matter Manny was beaten but he was far from finished.
World titles would follow, the first being the WBC Flyweight title he capturing by way of KO over Thai fighter Chatchai Sasakul. In his 28th bout, Manny would fail to make the 112lb limit again, a sign that the emerging star was fast growing out of the flyweight category. He lost, only for the second time in 68 bouts.
His next fight would see him jump to the 122lb limit, a decision that would see him score seven stoppage wins in succession. The next blip on the young hopefuls record was a Technical Decision draw with Agapito Sanchez, the fight was controversial with Sanchez blatantly hitting low and accidental headbutts marring the spectacle. His career continued, his goal the same GREATNESS.
Manny was now within touching distance of the great names of the modern-day, he would beat Marco Antonio Barerra convincingly, the next big name would be an opponent he would face four times as a professional with mixed results.
The first fight between the two modern greats, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez would be surrounded in controversy. The official result was a draw but many felt the Pilipino great had but it wasn’t to be. It was clear then that these two fighters would meet again.
The next setback for Manny would come in the form of Mexican great Erik Morrales, the official result a unanimous decision in favour of the South American, Pacquiao however would gain his revenge just 2 fights later, courtesy of a tenth-round stoppage. Two fights later these warriors would meet again, the result was as clear as ever. Manny knocked out the gutsy Mexican in the 3rd round.
The remainder of his career is a who’s who of modern-day boxing. Marquez, Bradley, Hatton, De La Hoya, Mayweather, Thurman to name but a few. Manny’s record currently stands at an impressive 62(30) 7(3) 1 a record that would see him crowned champion in 8 different weight classes, a record that would see him become the first fighter to be the lineal champion in 5 different weight classes.
Pacquiao still fights, not as often as once was but that is to be expected at his age. He also became the Senator of the Philippines a role he takes very seriously. It’s not uncommon to see the Senator inject millions of his own cash to help his people survive.
All these achievements by a man, who at 14, didn’t have a home, he didn’t even know where his next meal was coming from. It’s maybe these harsh lessons that taught the ring legend how to deal with hard times, how to bounce back and keep fighting against the odds. That can’t be taught in a fancy boxing gym, this is something you have or you don’t and Manny had it by the boatload.