Emmanuel “Manny” Dapidran Pacquiao, or Manny Pacquiao, as the world knows him, is a big deal for anyone who even remotely follows boxing. The Filipino professional boxer has won 12 major world titles, including being the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing.
Nicknamed the “Pacman”, the boxer added another feather to his professional cap when he became a Senator in the Philippines in 2016. He soars high but with his feet firmly in the ground. This is because he has never forgotten his roots of origin, which included Manny rising to dizzying heights of fame from an extremely impoverished background.
In fact, Manny had to fight his way through to get where he is today. He grew up in the Sarangani Province in The Philippines and had to drop out of school when he was just 10.
According to USA Today, he and his family were dirt-poor and went hungry on many nights, Some days, he said, he only drank water the entire day to fill his stomach. Born in 1978, the fourth of six siblings, his parents separated when he was still a child. His family of seven lived in a cardboard shack.
According to China Daily, when Manny was just 14, his single mother could no longer afford to provide for her family. So, to make ends meet, Manny left home at 15 and went to Manila to make a career in boxing. He spent many nights on the mean city streets scrounging for food while trying to build his career.
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With such experiences, when Manny had finally had the resources, he wanted to give back to the community. “I feel what they’re feeling because I’ve been there,” said the pro boxer. “I’ve slept in the street. That was my life before. So hard. That’s why I feel what they’re feeling right now.”
This is the reason why he decided to build 1000 houses for the homeless in his hometown Sarangani Province in 2016. And he’s paying for the entire project himself, without taking any taxpayer money. “I have spent more than 100 million pesos (more than $2 million) on building houses for the less fortunate,” he told USA Today.
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But that’s not all, it seems. His promoter, Bob Arum, shared another instance of boxer’s philanthropic nature. Arum recalled how Pacquiao had chosen to distribute the millions he earned during his fights in the U.S. to the homeless. Thousands of people would line up in front of Pacquiao’s Philippines home to collect the money.
“He sits in front of his house giving money away to people; they go for blocks,” recalled Arum in 2010. “I’ve seen it. Food and money. He believes that’s part of the higher purpose, because once he gives it away, he believes God will replenish it.”
When anyone hears the name Manny Pacquiao now, they only think of the world-famous boxer. But he usually brings his immense struggle into the forefront as a reminder of the price it takes to be where he has reached.
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“Many of you know me as a legendary boxer, and I’m proud of that,” Pacquiao told China Daily. Talking about his struggle and choice to get into boxing, he said, “I became a fighter because I had to survive. I had nothing. I had no one to depend on except myself. I realized that boxing was something I was good at, and I trained hard so that I could keep myself and my family alive.”
Commenting on how he decided to become a Senator and use the privilege he now has, Manny says, “As I went around my country, I realized there were so many people who need help, who look up to me for inspiration,” he said, adding, “That was when I took on the bigger fight, the bigger challenge of becoming a public servant. And because of their trust and confidence, I now represent my people’s interests as a senator.”
As per USA Today, he continued, “In boxing, the fight is in the ring is for the enjoyment of the fans. In the Senate, the fight is for improving the quality of life of the Philippine citizens.”