Boxer Pacquiao Heads To Championship A Winner
SCOTT SIMON, host:
Manny Pacquiao doesn't so much punch his opponents as he pistol whips them with his fists. Manny Pacquiao is the boxer of the decade. He also happens to be an elected member of the Philippines House of Representatives and a platinum recording artist. But tonight he's all boxer. He steps into the ring to fight super welterweight Antonio Margarito at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas. We spoke to him on Thursday ahead of the fight.
Mr. Pacquiao, thanks so much for being with us.
Mr. MANNY PACQUIAO (Boxer): Hi, thank you. Thank you for giving me time.
SIMON: How did you start boxing?
Mr. PACQUIAO: I start boxing when I was 12 years old, and I turned pro when I was 16.
SIMON: And what interested you about it?
Mr. PACQUIAO: Because I want to help my parents to get money to buy food. That's why.
SIMON: You know, you do so many things that have been so successful and are so wealthy, why do you keep fighting?
Mr. PACQUIAO: I keep fighting because boxing is my passion and I'm still can fight, yeah. But maybe I'm not going to stay longer in boxing because I have -and I'm getting old and I have my political career. So...
SIMON: Yeah. I think it's safe to say that you are the great hero of the Philippine nation. Is it sometimes hard to, in a sense, carry your homeland on your back when you get into the ring?
Mr. PACQUIAO: There's apprehension about that, but you know, that's why I - on every fight I have to train hard, because the whole Philippine nation is in my shoulders. I have to win the fight.
SIMON: Well, your trainer, Freddie Roach, has given some interviews where he says he sometimes worries that between you being a congressman and your concern for politics and your music, that it's sometimes hard to focus you on training for a fight.
Mr. PACQUIAO: That focus is always there. I'm always hungry for the fight. And what I believe is if you train hard and you jog in the morning and train in the afternoon, you know, you do something, it's not a distraction.
SIMON: I don't know. When you've been champion in seven different weight classes, it's hard not to think that you won't be satisfied in politics until you're president of the Philippines. Do you want to be president of the Philippines?
Mr. PACQUIAO: I'm not thinking about that right now. But I'm focusing to being a congressman and what I can give to my constituents and, you know, what project I can give to them.
SIMON: I've heard that kind of answer before from politicians.
Mr. PACQUIAO: Yeah?
SIMON: May I ask, what are your most important political goals? What would you like to achieve in Congress?
Mr. PACQUIAO: I would like to, you know, achieve, you know, giving a livelihood and for education. Of course, my problem is we don't have a provincial hospital, so I'm going to create a provincial hospital and give medical assistance. I want to be a champion in terms of public service. Not only in boxing, but also as a public servant.
SIMON: You know, Mr. Pacquiao, we've done stories about brain damage in boxing. There are people who retire even when they're 29 and 30 and years later they have some problem. Do you ever worry about that?
Mr. PACQUIAO: Yes. I'm thinking about that, because I'm a boxer, so I have to consider that problem and, you know, that's why right now I'm thinking that I'm not going to stay long in boxing, because I'm getting older and, you know, I have to plan my future properly.
SIMON: Mr. Pacquiao?
Mr. PACQUIAO: Yes?
SIMON: Knowing what we know now about concussions, would you tell other 12-year-old boys to go into boxing nowadays?
Mr. PACQUIAO: No, I don't want to encourage them to go in boxing. I want them to finish their school and follow my (unintelligible) as a politician.
SIMON: You want them to be around to vote for you?
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: Well, Mr. Pacquiao, it's been an honor to talk to you, sir. Take care.
Mr. PACQUIAO: All right. Thank you, Scott.
SIMON: Manny Pacquiao, singer, congressman, and boxer. Tonight he fights for the super-welterweight�championship of the world in Arlington, Texas.
Mr. PACQUIAO: It's going to be a great fight.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.