Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Boxer Pacquiao enters politics

Boxer Manny Pacquiao - seen here after beating Ricky Hatton - has entered congress in the Philippines

World boxing star Manny Pacquiao has taken the oath as a Philippine congressman, bringing him into a political arena that he said seemed more daunting than boxing.

The 31-year-old Pacquiao, looking slightly uneasy in an elegant formal shirt and leather shoes, pledged before about 1,000 spectators in Alabel town in his southern Sarangani province to be a good, God-fearing civil servant.

"We can knock out any foe," Pacquiao said, promising people in his impoverished province a "new chapter of our history."

Talking to reporters later, Pacquiao said he was nervous that he could not accomplish much but he promised to try his best to ease the widespread poverty gripping his province, about 600 miles south of Manila.

"Entering politics is more daunting than boxing," he said.

It was a triumphant second try at local politics. He was soundly defeated when he first ventured into politics in a run for the powerful House of Representatives in 2007, but his worldwide profile has grown since then.

Aside from introducing bills during his three-year term in the House that would provide livelihood for farmers and fishermen and benefits for athletes, Pacquiao has promised to help build a university and a hospital for the poor in Sarangani.

In a bid to show that he was serious at politics, Pacquiao recently took a 10-day crash course on legislation and governance at the Development Academy of the Philippines.

A former baker and construction worker born to a poor family, Pacquiao became an embodiment of a rags-to-riches story in the Philippines where one-third of the 90 million people live on less than $1 a day.

Worshipped as a hero for bringing glory to a country beset with poverty, armed conflicts and political strife, Pacquiao has said he was ready to enter the ring a few more times before hanging his gloves for good. In a remarkable career to date, Pacquiao was the first boxer to win world titles in seven different weight divisions.

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