Manny "PACMAN" Pacquiao: Humility and Celebrity
Tonight Manny "PACMAN" Pacquiao has the much anticipated rematch with Timothy "DESERT STORM" Bradley.
I was at the original fight between these boxers with a very good friend who just happened to have put money on Bradley. Halfway through the fight, Alonso was regretting his betting decision. He leaned over to me and said, "Well, you were right." Pretty much the entire evening I had been giving him a hard time for being "such a moron", because "obviously Manny was going to win".
By the time the 12th round ended the majority of Bradley fans, Alonso included, were heading out of the arena. Alonso was my ride and my fighter won so I was gathering my things and leaving, too. We were halfway out of the tunnel when the call was made that 'Desert Storm' would now claim Manny's title as the new WBO Welterweight Champion of the World.
Alonso's face went from shock to confusion to realization to oh-my-god-I-just-made-a-bunch-of-MONEY! I, however remained in shock. Later my surprise would turn to feelings of having been personally offended, as if somehow I was up there with Pacquiao; in the ring; giving all of MY heart away only to be betrayed.
As I think of the impending fight this evening I cannot help but chuckle at myself for my own arrogance. Up until recently, Manny Pacquiao didn't even know I existed (he probably still doesn't although I was so honored as to have been present for his first 24/7 episode in preparation for tonight's match [aaaaah - totally bragging!]).
So my question is:
Why do we care so much about these fighters; people we don't even really know?
There has to be something much deeper than just the mere act of two people getting in to a ring and delivering blows at one another which must connect us to them; something we must relate to; something we, perhaps, see of them in ourselves.
Manny was a street kid; a no body; a thief. His survival instincts growing up allowed him to continue living for 'one more day' as his life was literally a collage of moments of just getting the next meal; of making ends meet. Now he is one of the greatest fighters of all time. Now he holds more world titles than any other boxer. Now he is a congressman. Now he fights human-trafficking within his country. Now... He is a hero.
There it is. There is our connection. From there is where our love for him stems. Because deep inside the heart of each of us resides a hero; a heroine of our own story. When faced with life's challenges can we be like Manny? Can we survive? Perhaps our love for him (anyone who loves boxing can appreciate him even if they don't claim to be his fan) is out of a need to answer those very questions. And perhaps watching him struggle and survive gives us our answers.
This is the beauty of heroes: they represent us, they embody our hopes and dreams and goals and then they pave the way for us. They make it just a little bit easier to embark on our own journeys, because they show us that we CAN succeed.
So why do I respond to someone like Pacquaio over someone like Bradley, or for a better example: over someone like Mayweather? Bradley is still proving himself and maybe he can grow some humility, but Mayweather is just supremely arrogant. Of course, he has the chops to back it up. Although, he will never have me as a fan.
There is something that draws us to heroes, and there is something that makes us love those heroes. I can respect Mayweather (and I do), he's absolutely remarkable at what he does, but I don't like him. See, his talent speaks for itself, so everything he says on top of that is overkill to me. I understand that some will say "this is 'part of the game'", but is it a requirement? You can only be the best if you LACK humility? Surely, not.
And, this is the reason I love Manny. He isn't just a hero in a survival and talent sense, he is a hero in a spiritual sense as well. He allows his efforts to speak for themselves and he is honest yet kind with words towards his opponents.
In a way, he leads by example showing us that there is always a choice and the outcome is often quite different when we choose that of the spiritual warrior. Heroes like Manny show us how we can be strong in the face of spiritual warfare. Every time he gears up for a new fight he is tried and tested long before the big night ever arrives. Can the opponents provoke him? Can the media interviewers say the right thing to inspire him to trash talk? Will he fall victim to their ploys?
I love that what I take from Pacquiao is, at the very base line, he's a man who is purely and simply all heart. Do I believe he's perfect? Yes, I do! (Haha- tricked you). No. Manny is not perfect nor would he have me put him onto a pedestal from which he would certainly fall. Instead, I think him to be... extraordinary. He is extra beyond ordinary. It's his level of heart which draws me in, because I can sense that his intentions are pure. He does a wonderful job of fighting the ego and humility shines brightly through.
I hope to take in the lesson Manny can provide us all and choose to be humble when faced with not simply the humbling experiences life has to offer, but the ones in which we may be exalted as well.
Good luck tonight, Mr. Pacquiao. We'll be watching!