Underdog Story of the Day - Manny Pacquiao
Born and raised in Kibawe, Philippines, Manny was a part of an impoverished family that often couldn't even afford to put rice on the table. If it wasn't for his Uncle Sardo, Pacquiao might still be living in poverty, but this isn't the case, considering he is now one of the wealthiest athletes on the planet. So where did it all begin?
In 1990, Manny recalls sitting on the couch with his uncle watching the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas fight. This fight changed Manny's life forever. Buster Douglas shockingly took down the seemingly unbeatable Mike Tyson and it gave Manny hope. It gave him hope that he could come out of the Philipines and become a world champion.
Manny moved away from his family to go train with his uncle in hopes of sparking a successful boxing career. He and his uncle got to work. Even though neither had much experience with the sport, they were willing to try. They turned a room in his one-story house into a makeshift gym. Manny's uncle was just excited to share his passion with his nephew, vowing to work as hard as he could to get Manny to superstar status.
Manny keeps his first pair of gloves in a glass case to remember his humble beginnings.
At first, things didn't look promising. Manny was a scrawny Philipino with no muscle, but after six months of training, his uncle was quite confident that Manny was on track to becoming a huge success. When Manny turned 15, he sought out the better competition, forcing himself to take a boat to the capital, Manila, where he slept on the streets and in the boxing gym in order to continue his training. If this isn't enough for you, let's backtrack to before Manny turned 10.
Before his 10th birthday, Manny had never seen a TV set and lived in a single-room shack, where his father would sometimes climb 70 trees per day to gather coconuts for his family. His family would even collect stale bread and sell it to try to make a little money.
His first professional fight was in the winter of 1995. He beat Edmund Ignacio in four rounds, propelling his professional career. This was the start of what would soon become a legacy. He began to take down title after title, eventually named "Fighter of the Decade" for the 2000s. He was the first boxer to ever win a title in eight weight divisions.
He earned his big payday when he fought the famed, fortuned, and undefeated Floyd Mayweather in 2015. It was named the "Fight of the Century" and Pacquiao grossed more than $160 million. Although he lost by decision, Manny continues his boxing legacy, setting an example for the impoverished and unfortunate that anything is possible.
WATCH: Documentary on Manny Pacquiao
Manny's story can teach us two things. One, a given, is that anything is possible regardless of your background or social status. He defied the odds coming from extreme poverty, managing to make it to the top of the fight game while simultaneously amassing one of the highest net worths in athlete history. Two, never forget where you came from. When Manny goes back to the Philipines to visit his family, he still goes out fishing with his uncle for hours just like when he was a child.
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