Some of the biggest athletes in the world have gone through some major hurdles to get to the top. A select few of them wind up changing the lives of many people in the process. This is the tale of one of the most prolific figures to ever lace up a pair of boxing gloves.

Struggling To Live

Frederick Manligas Nacino

Born in the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao had big dreams just like any other kid. Unfortunately, he dealt with some major issues. While attending the sixth grade, his parents separated when his father’s infidelity was exposed, and he dropped out of high school because of poverty issues. In his home country, poverty is a major issue, and while he was growing up, nearly half of the population were living well below the poverty line.

Confused at what to do, Pacquiao turned to his uncle Sardo Mejia for advice. The man taught Pacquiao about boxing and what it can do for the soul. “If it wasn’t for me, there would be no world champion Manny Pacquiao,” stated Mejia.

He started training Pacquiao in boxing, and at the age of 12, the future world champion won his first fight against a 16-year-old boxer in General Santos City. “For Uncle Sardo, it was the ultimate blessing that his little nephew shared his favourite hobby,” Pacquiao stated in his autobiography. “Even though he had no formal training, we both took it seriously and knew that we were going to be champions one day.”

While the victory was grand, it didn’t give Manny the spark he needed to go forth with this newfound career. Unfortunately, that came from the death of his friend Eugene Barutag in the ring, who was aspiring to be a famous boxer just like him. “Even though he died, I thought ‘I will continue our dream, our battle,'” Pacquiao said.

The Mark Of A Champion


Pacquiao quickly ascended up the weight division with an astonishing 32-2 record and a run with the WBC International super bantamweight title. His big break came on June 23, 2001, when he fought Lehlo Ledwaba for the IBF super bantamweight title. This wasn’t an ordinary match for Pacquiao. This was his first match in the United States, and with it taking place at the iconic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the pressure was on.

That night, he showed the entire world what the Philippines already knew, and he captured the title.

It didn’t end there. During his illustrious career, Pacquiao’s popularity and skill have earned an estimated net worth of $190 million.

A Hero To His People

Malacañang Photo Bureau

In 2007, Pacquiao shifted into politics with a run for a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives. While he lost in a major blowout, he won a seat in the Sarangani province in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. In 2015, he drew media attention when he announced plans to run for Senator.

“I will not be absent because the whole country would be my responsibility,” he said in a press release. Under the United Nationalist Alliance party, he was one of 12 new members of the Senate, and with 16 million votes, he was one of the most popular in the bunch.

Pacquiao officially retired from boxing in April 2016 to focus on being a Senator, but he came out of retirement eight months later to face Jessie Vargas for the WBO welterweight title. Eight months after winning the belt, Pacquiao would lose it to Jeff Horn in Australia.

While many people assume Pacquiao would challenge the boxer for a rematch, that would be on the backburner as violence in his home country continues to escalate. Whether he’s facing an opponent in the ring or facing another issue in his home country, Manny Pacquiao is living proof that determination and a strong mindset will bring you success.