(Manila) Legendary Filipino presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao announced Wednesday that he has hung up his gloves after more than 25 years of his career.
The world champion in eight categories including six major confederations – a record – as well as Senator Pacquiao, who is 42 and aspires to succeed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, admitted that the decision was the “hardest” of his life.
“It’s hard for me to accept that my boxing career is over,” the champ said in a video message posted to Twitter, which quickly went viral.
“Today I announce my retirement.”
This statement comes ten days after the boxer-turned-national hero declared himself a candidate in the presidential elections in May 2022 in the Philippines.
A few weeks earlier, he had lost in a battle in Las Vegas against Cuban Yordenes Ogas. Since then, rumors about the end of his boxing career have multiplied.
Pacquiao entered politics in 2010, when he was elected MP, before becoming a senator in 2016. On September 19, he announced his candidacy for the top office.
The boxer, who is married and has five children, thanked his millions of fans around the world. He was also keen to pay special tribute to his longtime coach, Freddy Roach, saying that he considers him a member of ” [sa] Family, brother, friend.”
“He will become a legend, not only in boxing but also in the sports world,” Ted Lerner, an American sports journalist who works in the Philippines, told AFP.
In his video message, Pacquiao claimed that boxing gave him “a chance to fight out of poverty” and “the courage to change even more lives”.
“I will never forget what I did and accomplished in my life. I can’t imagine I just heard the last bell ”which rings at the end of the encounter, added the champion, considered one of the best boxers of all time. He briefly announced his retirement in 2016 before reversing his decision.
“happy and sad”
He is very popular in the archipelago of 110 million people where his generosity and upliftment, while born into abject poverty, are deeply admired.
Raised on the streets, Pacquiao dropped out of school at the age of 14 selling roadside cakes before working in a grocery store to help his mother provide for her two younger brothers.
At the same time, he started boxing and it took a few years for this left-handed player to become a professional.
Wednesday’s announcement was met with mixed feelings in his hometown of General Santos, in the southern part of the archipelago, where he is worshiped.
“I am happy and sad at the same time,” Ana Rodriguez, 24, told AFP.
“I am glad he will be able to spend more time with his family, but I am also sad that he no longer brings a sense of pride to General Santos.”
As he prepares to become an official presidential candidate, Pacquiao has vowed to tackle poverty and corruption in a bid to woo voters with his own story.
After two terms for Representative and one in the Senate, the election of a boxer to the top position is not unrealistic even if it is not guaranteed, in a country whose political class is shrouded in celebrities.
Fans see Pacquiao as living proof that hardworking people can succeed and get rich, no matter where they come from.
But his critics accuse the 1940s of lack of intelligence and not often sitting in the Senate, which raises questions about his ability to lead the archipelago.
He has clashed publicly with Duterte recently, over official corruption and dealing with a naval dispute with Beijing, and it could cost him support, as the current president remains hugely popular.
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