Boxing: Pacquiao, the street kid who conquered the world

Boxing: Pacquiao, the street kid who conquered the world

MACAU - In 1992, a 14-year-old boy dropped out of school in General Santos City in the southern Philippines because of extreme poverty.

With his single mother was unable to support him and his five siblings, he made his way to Manila and ended up living on the streets.

When someone suggested to the young Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao that he divert his energies to a local boxing gym, it turned out to be a shrewd piece of advice.

"I kept winning and almost became a boxer without knowing," said the man who would go on to make history as the only winner of world titles in eight weight divisions.

He soon caught the attention of national amateur selectors and made the Philippines team.

With lodging and subsistence provided, it proved the beginning of one of the most glittering careers the fight game has ever known.

'Manny' (as he became known) Pacquiao's natural talent and speed, coupled with a fearsome work ethic, saw him work his way up to being lauded as "the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world".

Pacquiao (56-5-2) will command a payday in excess of $20 million dollars when he fights Chris Algieri at the Venetian Macau, one of the world's largest and grandest casino resorts, on Sunday morning - a far cry from his desperate beginnings.

It is perhaps memories of his younger impoverished days that prompt Pacquiao never to refuse requests from family and friends.

His philanthropy and generosity are well known, and resulted in the Filipino icon paying for two Airbus A320s emblazoned with his face to fly his 300-plus entourage the two hours from General Santos to Macau for the fight.

His fame and fortune in the ring also enabled him to study and finally pass his high school exams in 2007 at the age of 28.

A college degree followed in 2009 and a further qualification in legislation and governance paved the way for him to be elected with 66 per cent of the vote in May 2013 as a congressman in his wife Jinkee's home province of Sarangani. He was re-elected unopposed in 2013.

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