Pacquiao, the King of the Ring, is vying for the presidency of the Philippines.
Manny Pacquiao is revered in the Philippines for his striking strength as well as his ascent from poverty to the top of the sport. His backing for a murderous drug war and homophobic ideas, however, have attracted a large number of critics.
Pacquiao, dubbed “The National Fist” in the Asian archipelago, has turned his sporting triumph into a political ring, and now has his sights set on a high-stakes presidential fight.
Pacquiao announced on Sunday that he will run for president in 2022, promising to fight poverty and corruption while appealing to voters with his rags-to-riches story.
“I understand what you’re all going through, I understand the pain you’ve gone through, and I understand that you’re all tired,” Pacquiao said after accepting the candidacy of a rival faction in President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruling party.
Pacquiao’s objective is not unattainable in a country known for celebrity-obsessed politics after two terms as a congressman and one as a senator.
However, victory is far from certain.
Fans perceive Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion, as living proof that anyone can achieve success if they work hard enough, regardless of their background.
However, detractors charge that the high school dropout lacks intelligence and is a regular no-show in the Senate, raising concerns about his competence to lead a country of 110 million people.
Pacquiao has risked political capital in a public squabble with Duterte, who rivals the boxer for the hearts of many Filipinos and has previously mentioned him as a possible successor, less than a year before the polls.
He’s also created controversy by endorsing Duterte’s brutal drug war, which rights groups claim has murdered tens of thousands of primarily poor men and prompted the International Criminal Court to open an investigation.
Pacquiao, a devout evangelical Christian, has spoken out against divorce, abortion, and contraception, as well as comparing gay couples to animals, a slur that cost him a sponsorship relationship with Nike.
Ted Lerner, a US-born sports journalist in the Philippines, told AFP that his reputation as a boxer would not necessarily convert to his popularity as a politician.
Pacquiao dropped out of high school at the age of 14, selling doughnuts on the side of the road and working as a grocery stacker to support his mother and two younger siblings.
The small southpaw was a pro boxer in a few of years.
In the ring, he is a high-volume power puncher who creates angles with rapid footwork to deliver flurry like. Brief News from Washington Newsday.