The Peoples’ Champ
“I remember as a little boy I ate one meal a day and sometimes slept in the street. I will never forget that, and it inspires me to fight hard, stay strong and remember all the people of my country, trying to achieve better for themselves.”
EVEN before he stolen the title from the Mexican boxing legend Marco Antonio Barrera via TKO, the 8th Division Champion and future Hall of Famer Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao has been the peoples champ all through his life outside and inside the boxing ring.
If there is a life worth emulating, there is no larger than life than that of Manny. Pacquiao, who is now on the pinnacle of his boxing career, has been an inspiration not just to numerous Filipinos but also to individuals around the world who has to fight to survive.
Pacquiao clearly remembers how his life had been through since he was still living in General Santos. When he was a teen, he has to scrap every odd jobs he can to help the family raise by their single mother, Dionisia Pacquiao (Manny’s father left them when he was still under 14 years old). He worked in construction, sold flowers, donuts and pandesal, and even used to be a kargador (porter) in General Santos Tuna Market.
” There are times that we have to drink water just to get something to our stomach”, he said, remembering how his big family able to survive the poverty in their province.
No one knows, even Manny, that he was able to be what he is today. When time came, together with his bestfriend Buboy Fernandez (who is now his long time assistant coach), 12 young men with a goal in mind to be a world boxing champion went to Manila, the Philippines Capital, and trained as an amateur boxer. The 14 year old Pacquiao recalled he wanted to jump on that boat as it slowly swam it way to the city.
In Manila, Pacquiao did not immediately become boxer. The Gym owner Rod Nazarrio still remember this small, thin built man has to scrap iron and metal, do construction, do janitorial works and do gradening around the gym just to survive. Until he saw Pacquiao’s ability in the ring, thus catching his attention. Pacquiao then given the break to be in a Sunday boxing match aired in Philippine Television called Blow by Blow. It was a phenomenal match for Manny and instantly, he became crowd favorite as he knockout opponents after opponents. Boxing talent scout also took notice of this young man.
“I never thought he’d became a world champion. He is a crowd favorite because he will throw punches nonstop to his opponent from the very opening bell”, Nazarrio recalled.
Pacquiao starting to build a career, and was able to send money back to his family at home. In ht gym, he slept in the ring because there’s no other to sleep in. Despite the poor condition he was in, he never complained to his family.
Pacquiao’s hardships bear fruit as he earned titles in Asia. However, gate of opportunities opened when Nazarrio brought him to the United States and looked for promoters who will invest to the power punched boxer.
But things did not go according to plan. No trainers and gym wanted to have Pacquiao. They never knew him, neither gave him the chance to show what he can give.
Until they reached the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, a gym owned by then rising trainer Coach Freddie Roach, who has handled big names no less than Mike Tyson. They introduce Manny to him, and without much question, they both hit the mits. Roach, after 45 seconds, saw a bright future for Manny — a world champion in the making. Then the greatest boxing mentor-ship has been born.
Under the watch of Freddie, Pacquiao started to climb mountains of boxers in the US. He beat bigger names in bantamweight divisions, capturing the title and defending it many times. Until he faced a very dangerous opponent of that of Marco Antonio Barerra. Ring Magazine tag the match to be the Peoples Champ. Despite the experience difference, Pacquioa dismantled the legendary Barerra, forcing his father/coach to stop the fight. Manny became the Peoples Champ, a title that until now has been connected to him.
And the rest they say, is history.