GENERAL SANTOS CITY, PHILIPPINES — This is something that the Mexicans Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco AntonioBarrera, the American Oscar De La Hoya, the Briton Ricky Hatton and the Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto—proud warriors who have fallen before Manny Pacquiao’s fists—could not have prepared or trained for.
For the first time, the Philippines’ most famous athlete and the world’s pound-for-pound boxing king has revealed the secret of his success: He had a conversation with God who promised him “strength and power.”
“In my 31 years here on Earth, God appeared to me once and told me to have unconditional faith in Him,” the seven-time ring champion said in the vernacular before 1,500 guests during his birthday bash on Thursday night at the KCC Convention Center here.
“That is true,” Pacquiao—named “Boxer of the Decade” by Reuters news agency Monday—quickly added after the audience burst with applause. “I was not yet very popular and world champion when our God appeared to me and assured me of strength and power,” he said.
Pacquiao gave no hint about where or when the apparition occurred.
LIKE A POLITICIAN
As Pacquiao spoke, the audience sat quietly. The excitement picked up when spoke of the secret behind his ring exploits: “This is the first time I reveal this ... although I was asked many times what are the secrets that made me very popular and world champion.”
Sounding more like a politician than a prizefighter who lets his fists do the talking for him, Pacquiao asked the crowd: “Would you like to know where I get my strength and power?”
The crowd yelled, “Yes,” then fell silent to catch every word he was saying. He said God told him: “Just trust me, I will not leave you, I will not abandon you.”
WIN OR LOSE
Every time Pacquiao said that he drew his strength from God, the audience responded by saying, “Amen.”
He said this was why in every fight he fought, he would kneel and pray in his corner—to seek Divine Guidance. “Win or lose, I will pray at the corner to thank God for all the blessings” he said.
“What about you, did you count your blessings?” he asked the crowd. “Remember to thank God for all that He has done. He will give you your needs.”
With the help of his catering partner, Pacquiao fed some 2,000 street children while holding a concert at the mall. He performed with singer-composer Lito Camo, entertaining his local and international guests.
In an expression of gratitude, he also held raffle draws, the smallest prize being grocery items and the grand prize a car.
Dionisia, Pacquiao’s mother, said she was very proud of her son, noting that despite his worldwide fame and the fortune he has earned in boxing, he “still remembers God as his creator, protector and inspiration.”
“My son is very humble, he was like that while he was young, I am very proud of you, Manny,” Dionisia told her son.
“Thank you, Ma,” he responded.
Dionisia performed a dance number despite what she said were her aching feet as a result of wearing high-heeled shoes.
Pacquiao said he had other secrets that helped bring him to where he was and this would be read in a book he was writing, which would be released once he retires.
As if the honors he has reaped were not enough, Pacquiao Monday won another title: Reuters named him Boxer of the Decade.
The accolade might have had Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s name written all over it whenr he stepped out of the ring at the end of 2007 with a 40-0 record and five titles in five different weight classes.
Instead, it went to the Filipino southpaw so popular that he is now running for the congressional seat of Sarangani province in Mindanao in the May elections—under the banner of the Nacionalista Party.
Sen. Manny Villar, NP standard-bearer, on Monday said the entry of Pacquiao into the party emphasized its campaign slant that focuses on success through hard work. “We have very similar backgrounds,” Villar said.
“We both struggled and succeeded... This is the start of a long partnership,” Villar said at a political party meeting held in Mandaluyong City.
(With reports from Cathy Yamsuan and Reuters
Photocredit: Nicholas Von Wettberg, FilAm Star