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Manny Pacquiao: Serving the People or the Pugilist?

By Daniel “Tex” Cohen

I don’t really like politicians.

I know that statement is a bit prejudiced in its absolutism, but I figure that I may as well be up front about my own biases. Politicians have to contort their image and their intentions into something twisted and ugly to win races. While businessmen focus on making money and journalists focus on getting stories, politicians focus on getting votes.

And fighters? They focus on getting wins.

Manny Pacquiao is both a fighter and a politician. I don’t think Pacquiao has necessarily been beaten into a man with no morals in higher office in the Philippines. In fact, I think he is just the sort of revolutionary political figure that could take a small, impoverished country and inspire it to a higher level. At least, I hope that he is.

Even Mayweather fans should hope he can help people, right?

The question is whether or not Manny the Politician can still be Manny the boxer. And that is a very, very big question.

There have been athletic politicians before.

In America, Senator Jim Bunning had a long baseball career before giving Washington, DC a go. Bill Bradley was a heck of a basketball player before winning a senate seat and running for President, prevented from the highest perch in the primary phase by former Vice President Al Gore. Former action hero and body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger took the opportunity to defeat the corrupt Grey Davis and his crony Cruz Bustamante in a crippled California during a particularly unusual recount scenario more than five years ago.

Hell, even President William Howard Taft used to be a pitcher. Coincidentally, Taft was also Governor General of the Philippines, but that’s neither here nor there.

What I wonder about is whether or not I will like the political Manny Pacquiao as much as I like the pugilistic one. Manny the fighter speaks with his fists and has picked up enough English along the way to express the obscure remaining part of the story.

Pacquiao is damn near a mythical creature, almost a super hero that shows up to give his foes what-for from time to time just to show that he’s still around.

Frankly, I always like Batman better than the commissioner. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

The other obvious question is whether or not Pacquiao can actually properly perform his duties as a public servant and still continue to fight. The crime rate in his home country is zero during his pay per views; Theoretically, the best way for him to serve the public is to never stop fighting.

Of course, the people would eventually get tired of the fights (never mind the fact that fighting every day is impossible). Yet there is a small, underlying truth to the idea that politics may not be the best avenue for Pacquiao. He has never been a particularly impressive speaker.

He has provided no real reason to think he is particularly excellent with budgets or public services.

I don’t know what he thinks of foreign policy, the future of Asia, or the economic system that would best suit his people.

Frankly, there is little to nothing aside from his natural fighting ability and the popularity that has come with it that would tell me he can do the job of public service.

Mind you, that is not to say he can’t do it.

Pacquiao is clearly a “winner”, and outsiders from unusual sources tend to be the kind of politician (if there is any) that I like. I just haven’t seen any evidence as of yet that Pacquiao can do the job.

I applaud the Boxing media that have asked if Pacquiao can continue to fight effectively while he is in office. However, if Manny has overplayed his hand and cannot perform both duties, his failure as a fighter will mainly affect him and his family.

Sure, there are those that would lose spirit if they saw their man lose, but the welts, bruises, cuts, and monetary losses incurred would be in the possession of Pacquiao himself.

I wonder about the more significant question: Can Manny serve the people while he is still strapping on a pair of Boxing gloves?

If Pacquiao fails as a fighter, he runs the risk of getting knocked out. If he fails as a Congressman, he runs the risk of getting his country knocked out.

You wonder why I don’t like politicians…

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