Coronavirus in the Philippines: Manny Pacquiao's biggest fight yet

Sometimes, the word legend can be used too often for people who just aren’t. However, when it comes to Manny Pacquiao, calling him a legend doesn't do him service.

Known as the people’s champion, the legacy of eight-division titleholder Manny Pacquiao is one that will live on forever. In the Philippines he is the equivalent of David Beckham in the UK, LeBron James in the U.S, and Sachin Tendulkar in India.

He’s been involved in some of the biggest fights in boxing history, including the sport's most lucrative bout against Floyd Mayweather.

However, cashing in on fight checks has never been Pacquiao’s style. Instead, he is a senator in the Philippines and focuses on spreading the wealth to help those in desperate need.

Last year, when I spoke to his adviser and President of MP Promotions Sean Gibbons, he told me the most incredible story involving a man working in an ice cream van nearby.

“One time there was a guy in an ice cream vendor down the street, he [Pacquiao] bought some ice cream off him and he’s talking to the guy. This guy explains ‘I have nothing’. He buys the man a house,” Gibbons starts telling me.

“I get chills when I talk about it. He’s so much bigger than boxing. He’s an icon in his country and he’s a senator. He could reach higher in office one day. But what he does, if you could see a day in his life how many people come to him for help and what they need and in the political field, that’s what’s really special about this guy.

“He knows what it’s like to have nothing and what it’s like to have everything. But he gives as much as he can back. Sometimes too much. He needs to think of himself and his family! But through his political goals, I’m telling you some of the stuff he does that people don’t see is amazing,” Gibbons added.

And that's just a standard day in the life of Pacquiao. An estimated $200 million has been donated to charities across the world from Pacquiao's own pocket and over 2,000 homes have been built for the people he serves.

He doesn't do it for the plaudits, he does it because he cares about people.

Pacquiao vows to KO COVID-19

His next quest is to help his country overcome the current coronavirus epidemic. As it stands, there are 462 reported cases of COVID-19 and 33 deaths in the Philippines.

Despite still being one of the world’s best, Pacquiao has put his illustrious boxing career on hold to help provide testing kits, equipment and transport for nurses giving treatment to sufferers. 

The Jack Ma Foundation are teaming up with the Manny Pacquiao Foundation to provide 50,000 test kits to help those most at risk, adding to some 600,000 masks donated by Pacquiao.

Pacquiao told Manila Bulletin that he’ll help Filipino citizens even if it puts his own health at risk. He said: “If you are a leader, you have to be a front-liner.

“You have to lead people and let people see that you are with them. I grew up poor. I know what they feel.”

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Take a bow, Manny. 

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