There must be very few people in the developing world that have not heard of Manny Pacquiao. Judged to be, by the boxing world, as the greatest pound for pound fighter in the world. Being somewhat of a pacifist, I was aware of Manny Pacquiao and his reputation, but had never looked into his history, and just how he had got where he is at today.
The PacMan biography (ISBN 978-0-306-82045-8, Da Capo Press, 2011) has been written by Gary Andrew Poole, himself a writer for several magazines.
Very early in the book, the reader is made aware on the crushing poverty that is all pervasive in the Philippines. Poole suggests that PacMan’s greatest pride comes from paying for children to go to school, when he himself had to leave school at 15 because of the financial destitution of his family. The “Pacquiao scholars” as they are known, are more than 500. The PacMan may be revered in his home country, but is it for his boxing ability, or for his work in the social arena?
The book explores and describes his background living in a very poor fishing village. From there, it follows his journey to Manila to the boxing arenas, which seem almost as popular as the local Catholic churches. PacMan, like the majority of Filipinos, is a devout Catholic and in the Black Nazarene group, which worships a black wooden Jesus statue, which it is claimed can assist in miracles happening.
Much background is given as to the characters of some of the entourage, people it would seem are necessary for Pacquiao to be able to fight at the top level, so coaches and trainers and ringside assistants are all looked at and their psyche analyzed and how they fit in with the boxer’s.
The influence of the media is explored, coupled with the fight promoters, and with big money changing hands (in the millions of dollars), those who can be trusted can be counted on the fingers of one hand it would seem.
Manny Pacquiao comes across as a complex character who can dedicate himself totally to the next bout, but also spend time in pool halls and cock fighting and being accused of infidelity, but with the Filipino press so firmly on his side, there is no public group trying to get him to change his ways.
I asked a Filipina in the office about PacMan, “Does good, but more for himself!” was the reply.
Several B&W plates in the middle of the book, mostly after 2009 leading up to his election as a congressman in the Philippines, though the first group shows the poverty that he came from as a 15 year old.
At B. 545 on the Bookazine shelves it is not an expensive insight into the character of the boxer. There are many sides to Manny Pacquiao and the book definitely makes understanding the man a little easier. However, I got the feeling from the book that the PacMan is actually more than a little unsure of himself, which explains in some ways, the retinue that he allows to follow him everywhere.