By: Rudolph Ian Alama
Even when he was still young, poverty already stalked Emmanuel ‘PACMAN’ Dapidran Pacquiao just like a dogged challenger aiming to take the best out of the champion.
Born to a poor family, Emmanuel or Manny had to stop school and work in a bakery hawking breads in the streets of General Santos, a city in southern Mindanao, the Philippines.
The young breadwinner quickly found he had a talent: boxing. The city’s mean streets would toughen out Manny, while taking a break from street peddling; he would join boxing tournaments held in General Santos barangays (villages).
Manny Pacquiao’s Early Years
As a teenager he had a knack of fighting and knocking out bigger and older opponents using his trademark speed and power-innate pugilist’s gifts which ultimately would lead him to great heights. Watch this video of some footage of a young Pacquiao in action (if you don’t like Rammstein turn down the volume):
His mother Dionesia would disapprove of his son’s forays into boxing. A highly religious woman, she wanted Manny to enter the seminary and pursue the vocation of priesthood.
Manny seeked greener boxing pastures in Manila, where poverty stalked him again. In the big city he took on odd jobs as a construction worker and a restaurant busboy where compensation would be in the form of leftover meals. Oftentimes he would just sleep on the street whenever fatigue would overtake his tired body.
But it was in Manila where he was slowly getting noticed in boxing. Using his natural skills he began winning and in the early stages of his professional career he won eleven straight matches before being stopped by boxer Rustico Torrecampo who had the distinction of being the only Filipino boxer to knock out cold the celebrated champ.
The defeat to Torrecampo only strengthened Manny’s resolve to get better. He chalked another impressive row of victories and by then Blow-by-Blow a local boxing television show had already noticed his potential.
Manny Pacquiao’s Rise to the Top
In 1998 he won the World Boxing Championship Flyweight belt from Thai boxer Chatchai Sasakul. But in his second title defense an overweight and ill-prepared Pacquiao got disqualified and subsequently defeated by Medgoen Singsurat.
This did not daunt Manny, who trained harder hoping for another crack at the world title. In 2001 he soundly defeated International Boxing Federation Bantamweight Champ Lehnohonolo “Hand of Stone” Ledwaba of South Africa in an impressive victory in Las Vegas:
Finally the world had seen the poor bread hawker from General Santos. His fast and powerful boxing excited the boxing community, recognizing his speed and spirit in the ring. In 2001 he teamed up with legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach to forge one of the most successful boxing partnerships in boxing history.
In 2004 he soundly defeated Mexican Hall of Famer Marco Antonion Barrera, the Mexican was just one of Pacquiao’s victims among others fellow boxing greats; Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley. See a video covering some of his highlights here:
Today Manny is an internationally recognized superstar, who has boxed his way out of poverty, an unprecedented eight-division boxing champ now living comfortably ensconced in the fact that he was able to knock out his biggest foe. His reputation has made him an icon for boxing and for the Philippines. Here he is being featured in Mtv’s Cribs to show off his house in Los Angeles:
Manny Pacquiao is the most awarded boxer in history and is the only boxer to ever win 7 world titles in 7 different weight divisions. Flooring his opponents with lightning speed while staying with both feet on the ground, has made him a national hero in the Philippines, an example for many and a feared opponent for every boxer destined to meet Manny in the ring.