by Johnny Walker
A key theme underlying superstar welterweight boxer and politician Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao’s last two fights has been his conversion to a strict form of Catholicism.
Early in 2012, the Filipino icon told reporters, “I realize I was a weak person before. If I had died I believe my soul would have ended in hell. I had faith, but I was doing things which were against the will of God.”
Pacquiao and associates went on to speak of sins that included drinking, womanizing, and gambling, the latter related to the vile form of animal cruelty known as “cockfighting,” in which roosters are armed with sharp metal spurs and made to fight to the death. Pacquiao at one time owned more than a thousand of the fighting roosters, but has since given them away.
Since the Pac-Man has become more devout, however, things have not been going his way in the ring. He lost a very controversial decision to American Timothy Bradley and has been knocked senseless by Juan Manuel Marquez.
During the lead-up to the Bradley fight, Pacquiao rankled many when he attempted to make religious statements concerning gay marriage that were either initially misconstrued or that he was forced into walking back, depending on who one believes. At any rate, Pacquiao’s ostentatious displays of religion before the Bradley fight no doubt rubbed some people in Las Vegas, his boxing home way from home, the wrong way.
Sin City and Jesus don’t exactly make a harmonious duo. After the rather bizarre judging of Pacquiao vs Bradley went the way of the American challenger, there were whispers from boxing insiders that this raw deal was “payback” for the Pac-Man’s overt religious displays (he insisted that those in his camp follow along) in publicity events since he arrived in the USA for the fight.
Fast forward to February 2013: in the aftermath of Pacquiao’s devastating knockout at the hands of enemy Juan Manuel Marquez, reports say that a coterie of religious advisers have now been banished from the Pacquiao camp.
“These pastors were the very ones denounced by Mommy Dionisia, the Pacman’s loving mom, for having pushed the Filipino boxing superhero out of sync in his last fight against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez,” says a report in Inquirer Sports.
The report indicates that while preparing for his fourth fight with Marquez, Pacquiao’s mother “decried how Pacquiao had been made to stay up till the wee hours of morning in the run-up to the Marquez fight trying to interpret and memorize the Bible with these pastors.”
Ms. Yolly Alfante, president of the Mindanao Professional Boxing Association, says that during a recent visit with the boxer/politician, he indicated that the religious advisors had been banished.
“I myself had warned Manny about those guys. They were nowhere on Tuesday and Manny himself assured they were all gone,” Alfante says in the article.
“Pacquiao stared at her and signaled with both eyes and hands that there were no more pastors around,” the report states.
“Alfante said that, knowing Pacquiao, whom she had helped in his hungry years, the boxing hero meant the pastors have been dumped for good.”
Perhaps the congressman has decided that he needs to be listening to trainer Freddie Roach more and certain men of the cloth a little less, given that he’s on a two-fight losing streak and boxing not exactly being a “turn the other cheek” kind of sport.