By Leighton Ginn
Although Manny Pacquiao has backed off that Saturday’s fight against Timothy Bradley would be his final fight before retiring, he has strolled down memory lane this week, talking about the start of his career, the first time he fought in America and his lasting impact on the Filipino people.
Pacquiao is currently in a race for a senate seat in the Philippines, and is unable to speak much about the election. While Pacquiao is essentially a 2-1 favorite over Bradley, a victory for Pacquiao in the senate race seems even more likely.
In Pacquiao’s first fight in 1995, he fought for 1,000 pesos, which is $20 dollars. And Pacquiao had to travel for three hours by a boat to get to the venue in Sablayan, in the Philippines province of Occidental Mindoro.
“But that was my desire to box,” Pacquiao said. “At that time, I wanted to help my mother, my family. At that time, we had nothing. I was the breadwinner, I sent my brother to school. … I was the one to work for the family since I was 16 years old.”
Pacquiao said boxing is his passion. But for about three years, he had been urged by his family to give up boxing. Pacquiao said the calls for him to retire by his family came before his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2013.
In 2001, Pacquiao fought his first fight in America, beating Lehlo Ledwaba by TKO. What Pacquiao remembered most was how badly the announcer mispronounced his name.
But Pacquiao said what drove him in the sport was his family and trying to make a better life for himself.
“I loved doing it because I helped my family, my mother,” Pacquiao said. “When you have nothing, you don’t care how hard the work is. You want to help your family.”
Coming up through difficult circumstances helped shape Pacquiao’s humanitarian causes.
Pacquiao remembers growing up and living on the streets with no food, having only water to survive. Making $20 a fight was good money to help his family.
Through his fists, Pacquiao has become an international superstar who has earned multi-millions. His fight against Floyd Mayweather earned him approximately $150 million alone, according to many outlets. Forbes magazine reports Pacquiao will have $500 million in career earnings after Saturday’s fight.
Pacquiao said he doesn’t keep all the money. Instead, he tries to use his money to help others who are in similar circumstances that he used to face.
“I love the people, I love the poor people, I love to help them,” Pacquiao said.