By Ivan G. Goldman
Most fight fans won’t care that Manny Pacquiao called gays “worse than animals.” Neither will they care that he took back his words and apologized.
And if they pay attention they won’t be impressed that Floyd Mayweather, who’s made racist remarks about Pacquiao in the past, bashed him for his homophobic slurs.
For the most part fans are more interested in boxing than what the boxers think about the greater world outside the sport.
But if I were a Philippines citizen I’d be very much concerned about this latest flap. Why? Because Pacquiao, 57-6-2, 38 KOs, isn’t just a fighter. He’s a member of his nation’s House of Representatives and this year is running for a place in the Senate, a higher chamber. It’s no secret that he hopes to be President someday.
A man with his ambitions ought to educate himself better.
In an interview that aired Monday night on the Philippines’ TV5 network, Pacquiao said it was a matter of “common sense” that animals don’t have male-to-male or female-to-female relations. At which point he likened folks who engage in same-sex relations as “animals,” only worse.
It didn’t take long for his advisers to inform him he’d screwed up, after which he retreated and said he was “sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.”
Alas, if I’m not mistaken, the Bible also instructs us to stone adulterers, a practice that Pacquiao has apologized for in the past.
There’s a common affliction among politicians who aren’t terribly good at their jobs or particularly interested in learning how to do them better. Their solution is to get a bigger, more important political office. That’s why in the forthcoming U.S. election we’ve had enough crappy politicians running for president to field two baseball teams.
Interestingly enough, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has pointed out that Pacquiao has the worst attendance record in Congress. He attended only four days in 2014. Is anyone surprised that his answer to this flagrant truancy is to run for a more important job?
We’ve seen all this before in the U.S., where it’s not terribly unusual for a successful athlete to make use of his fame by seeking political office. Neither are we unacquainted with politicians who boost their family members into political positions of their own. Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee was elected as vice governor of Sarangani and his brother Rogelio has been defeated in a congressional campaign.
Pacquiao, 37, is a former street kid who dropped out of school in his early teens. Later he earned a GED. He appears genuinely concerned for the poor and is known for distributing some of his wealth to the unfortunate. But if he’s ever displayed deep knowledge of, say, macroeconomics or political science, I’m unaware of it. He’s shown much more interest in singing, acting, basketball, and of course boxing, which is what earned him his place on the upper rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.
He’s pretty much left it to others to manage his fight career, and for the most part they’ve done a pretty good job. He’s made more money in boxing than anyone except Mayweather, and to his credit he’s fought many courageous, impressive battles.
He’s scheduled to defend his WBO welterweight title on June 9 in a third fight against Timothy Bradley, 33-1-1, 13 KOs. It’s not a fight that the world clamored for, but it’s apparently going to be Pacquiao’s last outing. He might want to put more focus there and less on the private practices of folks who are doing no harm.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.