Submitted by Ruel Gaviola:
Check out the excellent biographical piece on Manny Pacquiao in Grantland by Rafe Bartholomew, author of the fantastic basketball book, Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball.
Manny Pacquiao of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world is Filipino and the Filipino, Filipino American, and Asian American communities are excited about his fight against Floyd Mayweather this Saturday night.
When most Americans first heard of Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer’s life was presented as a fable. This is true whether they came across Pacquiao in the early 2000s, when he burst into the boxing mainstream with upsets of Lehlo Ledwaba and Marco Antonio Barrera, or whether they learned of him in 2008, when he invaded the actual mainstream with another upset, this time over Oscar De La Hoya. Even now, after years of being one of the highest-paid athletes in the world and just days away from facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the biggest fight of his career, Pacquiao will be introduced to casual fans as a boy who was born into intractable poverty in the southern Philippines, who started fighting professionally at age 16 to help support his mother and siblings, and who somehow slugged his way to the top of the sport.