Imagine for a second you're a young athlete, somewhere between the age of eight and 14. You are yet to play high school sports or get into one of the ever-competitive after-school boxing gyms that abound in urban neighborhoods throughout North America.
It is likely that in today's day and age you are more concerned with playing "Call of Duty" or "Madden" on your XBox 360 or Playstation 3. If you're lucky you have an iPad, or at least an iPhone, that you use to bump your favorite hip-hop joints while playing said video game.
If we're being real honest, the 8-to-14-year-old version of you is largely unconcerned with Manny Pacquiao. His boxing career and personal life are of little importance to little, narcissistic you.
That he has won eight separate boxing titles, 54 bouts and had 38 knockouts in his career means nothing to you. It's nice to know only if the holiday trivia game at your school includes facts on the matter so you can win another prize.
Otherwise, Pacquiao is just another go-getter making lots of money and is unidentifiable to you as a little kid in a low-income environment.
But that might not be so true.
After all, Pacquiao grew up in the Phillippines, which isn't exactly middle America in terms of wealth. In fact, at the age of 14 Pacquiao dropped out of school due to the extreme poverty he was living in. He has five siblings, so he knows what it's like to have to scrap for food, a bathroom and share a bedroom, and perhaps bed, to sleep in.
His mother, who alone was trying to raise him and his five siblings, simply could not make enough money to sustain the family.
At that time he left home to begin his amateur boxing career in Manila (one of the most famous fighting locales in boxing history). As a 14-year old, he spent time on the streets alone while he trained to become one of the greatest amateur fighters the sport has seen.
Shortly after engaging himself in the sport there in Manila, Pacquiao was invited onto the national amateur team, which would house him and pay for his living expenses.
Pacquiao's rise to stardom is essentially the American dream, only made manifest instead in the Philippines.
It is a story, undoubtedly, of hard work, perseverance and grit mixed with some God-given talent. It is a story every young wannabe athlete should pay close attention to.
It is to say that your circumstances do not define you nor confine you to the life in which you live. Change, improvement and even ascension are possible.
As many know, Pacquiao is a devout Catholic who regularly gives glory to God. He shows an appreciation and gratitude that few athletes openly exhibit.
In much the same way, Pacquiao has become involved in the political activities of his native country. He is lieutenant colonel in the Reserve Force of Philippine Army, which is of course responsible for protecting the native land. And he is officially a congressman, representing the home town of his wife in Sarangani.
Not only is Pacquiao glorifying God, but he's showing responsibility as a man to his country by helping to protect it and make it better as a nation.
And probably most importantly, he is a loyal family man. He and his wife, Maria Geraldine "Jinkee" Jamora, have four young children—two boys and two girls.
He is the epitome of responsibility, after being raised in an environment that didn't exactly support such a thing.
Responsibility being the key word. At 33 years of age, he recognizes his responsibility to make the most of his life and live with a purpose. He uses boxing to help other people and not just to glorify himself.
Young wannabe athlete or boxer, observe that. Wrestle with that. Fight to make these things which you base your athletic endeavors upon. Living a life of integrity and responsibility is the only thing that really matters.
If that's all you learn from the gentleman they call Pac-Man, learn that well. It will serve you better than any of his moves in the ring itself.
Personal Information found at Pacquiao's website.
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