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“The People’s Champ” comes out of retirement for an exhibition match which benefits families affected by the Ukraine-Russia war and homeless Filipino families.


By Edwin Allan C. Diaz


Retired or not, Filipino boxing legend Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao’s stellar performance is unwavering. He
recently defeated South Korean martial artist DK “Master” Yoo, demonstrating that he is still a legendary boxer. He won via unanimous decision in the charity exhibition match against Yoo on December 11, 2022, at the Korean International Exhibition Center (KINTEX) in Goyang, South Korea.

Pacquiao, 44, with a record of 62 wins (39 knockouts), eight losses (two knockouts), and two draws, had complete control of the fight despite Yoo’s reach and weight advantages. A year had passed since his loss to Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugás and subsequent retirement from the sport.

In the first round of “Pacquiao vs. DK,” both fighters tested the waters. But in the second and third rounds, Pacquiao was on the offensive. His powerful body shots and flurries were too much for the South Korean to handle; he would clinch and run away from the People’s Champ.

Yoo managed to land a couple of shots, but these didn’t stop Pacquiao from dropping him in the fourth round with a right cross (ruled by the referee as a slip) and twice in the sixth round with his powerful left.

Although Pacquiao was not able to knock out Yoo, he was still able to “give a good fight, with good action,” which made people happy. Especially the beneficiaries of the match— families affected by the Russia-Ukraine war and the poor and homeless families in the Philippines—who will receive 100 percent of the fight’s proceeds.

This is not Pacquiao’s first time giving free housing to poor and homeless families. “‘Yung pabahay ko matagal na ‘yung ginagawa ko. Wala pa ako sa pulitika namimigay na ako ng sariling tahanan, bahay at lupa (My housing project has been around for a long time. I have been giving away houses and lots long before I joined politics),” he said during the groundbreaking of two Pacman Villages. Both of these are in Leyte province, particularly in the towns of Kananga and Leyte.

Pacquiao’s career earnings were used to construct Pacman Villages, which provide free, decent, and disaster-resilient housing. They feature a barangay center, a place of worship, and a community center, providing residents with alternative livelihood opportunities in the food, retail, and manufacturing industries.

More than 2,000 houses have been built in General Santos City and the towns of Alabel, Glan, Maasim, and Malungon in Sarangani province, where Pacquiao first established his Pacman Villages. More will rise in the provinces of Bohol, Bulacan, Cavite, Cebu, Cotabato, and Nueva Ecija, as well as Marawi City.

During a press conference for “Pacquiao vs. DK” at the Shangri-La Fort in Taguig City on July 20, 2022, Pacquiao said it has always been his dream to provide housing for the less fortunate. “That’s really my advocacy, to be able to give houses to our fellow Filipinos.” He has been buying plots of land for his housing projects as early as 2004.

Pacquiao holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Boxing World Titles in Different Weight Divisions.” He is the only octuple world champion who has won the following titles: International Boxing Federation (IBF) Super Bantamweight; International Boxing Organization (IBO) Light Welterweight; The Ring Featherweight and Light Welterweight; and World Boxing Council (WBC) Flyweight, Lightweight, Super
Featherweight, and Super Welterweight.

The eight-division world champion has also been a fivetime Lineal Champion in the Flyweight, Featherweight, Junior Lightweight, Junior Welterweight, and Welterweight divisions. Unlike the aforementioned “alphabet soup organizations,” the Lineal Championship recognizes one world champion
per weight division. The title is passed down if the champion loses in a contest, announces formal
retirement, or vacates their current weight class. In recognition of his boxing prowess, Pacquiao has garnered numerous local and international awards. These include the Philippine Presidential Medal of
Merit, the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s Athlete of the Decade, Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and Sports Illustrated’s Fighter of the Year, to name a few.

Aside from boxing, Pacquiao has also played professional basketball. Kia Sorentos (now Terrafirma
Dyip) selected him in the first round of the 2014 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) draft. He was
also their playing coach for three seasons until 2017.

Pacquiao founded the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) a year after leaving the PBA. Now in its fourth season, MPBL follows a regional format that invites teams from all over the Philippines. It has proven to be successful, reaching as far as Dubai for exhibition games.

But nothing has more reach than the Manny Pacquiao Foundation (MPF), which Pacquiao established in 2019 in Los Angeles, California, United States (US). According to the foundation, he has donated “more than one-third of his career earnings to charity.” It’s a family effort, with Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee and daughter Mary Divine Grace serving as its Girls Initiative Ambassadors.

To curb the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, MPF pledged 50,000 test kits to the Jack Ma Foundation in 2020. It also joined forces with two nonprofit organizations (NPOs)— CAMELEON Philippines and FundLife—to support young girls who are survivors of sexual violence and prone to abuse.

With the help of MPF, Pacman Villages has even given homes to the Batwa people in Bundibugyo town, Uganda. The Batwa are one of the oldest still-living African tribes.

A year after hanging up his gloves, Pacquiao put them on once more for charity. But he’s not the only fighter who has boxed for a cause.

Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier donated a portion of their guaranteed earnings (US$2.5 million each) from
“Fight of the Century” to charity. Ali also raised funds and awareness for Parkinson’s disease, in his
match against Ken Norton, and for underprivileged children when he fought Japanese wrestler Muhammad
Hussain Inoki.

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr.’s heavyweight exhibition, billed as “Lockdown Knockdown,” lasted eight rounds and ended in a split draw. Both boxers were guaranteed US$1 million for the fight, but Tyson donated all his earnings “to various charities.”

Evander Holyfield fought former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2015 to raise funds
for CharityVision. The organization corrects people’s vision and gives them cataract surgery and glasses.

For muscular dystrophy research, George Foreman fought comedian Jerry Lewis in 1991. Other fighters
who have been in the ring with famous personalities for charity include Sugar Ray Leonard and Wladimir Klitschko, who fought actor Don Cheadle and TV presenter Piers Morgan, respectively. Then in 2010, Lennox Lewis fought comedian/actor Terry Crews.

Manny is not the only famous Pacquiao.

His mother, Dionesia Dapidran-Pacquiao, or “Mommy Dionisia,” has always accompanied him in his fights. She gained worldwide fame during Pacquiao’s fights because she would usually be spotted praying for her son’s safety or cheering for him to knock his opponent out.

Had Pacquiao won as president, Mommy Dionisia would’ve become one of his presidential advisers.

Pacquiao has five children: Emmanuel “Jimuel,” Jr., Michael Stephen, Mary, Israel, and Queen “Queenie” Elizabeth.

Jimuel is an amateur boxer who won his first welterweight match in the US. Michael is an Original Pilipino Music (OPM) artist and rapper with millions of views on YouTube. Aside from helping out with MPF, Mary is an influencer who documents the daily life of her family on YouTube. Israel is the youngest at only eight years old, while Queenie (named after the late Queen Elizabeth II) will appear in Planners Capital, an Asian TV series.

Jinkee became the vice governor of Sarangani from 2013 to 2016. After her term, she left politics for good to focus on their family and business, but not before becoming the presiding officer of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Sarangani.

Under Jinkee, the Sanggunian successfully acted on 428 resolutions and 71 ordinances. These include
measures eradicating open defecation, creating breastfeeding stations, and enhancing hospitals and water systems in the region.

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