Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao, 44, is no doubt one of the best boxers in the world. With twelve major titles  in eight different weight divisions, a stellar record of 62 wins, 2 draws, and 8 losses, and the title of  “Boxer of the Decade” from the World Boxing Council, Pacquiao remained a boxing icon despite retiring in 2021. 

To add to this achievement, Pacquiao also ran for senator in the Philippines in 2015 and won the elections in 2016. 

But this boxer-turned-politician has one more dream that he has yet to fulfill: winning a gold medal in the Olympics. It had always been a dream of his ever since he was young, but since he needed to financially support his family, he decided to postpone this dream and train to become a professional instead. In 1995, he finally became a pro and started to compete for world titles.

Fast forward to the future Pacquiao is now the living legend of the boxing arena

But what many didn’t know was that in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Pacquiao had the chance to fulfill his dream of being hailed as a gold medalist, as it was during this year that  the International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted the restriction on professional boxers from competing in the Olympics. But having recently won a seat as a senator in his country, he opted out and focused on serving his countrymen.

This year, however, the boxing champion is more determined than ever to join the 2024 Paris Olympics. According to POC President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Pacquiao’s camp contacted him on Wednesday to discuss how the eight-division world champion can qualify for the Paris Olympics.

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“One hundred percent, under the right circumstances, Manny would love to compete],” Gibbons wrote in a text message. “[It has] always been a dream of his to represent the Philippines in the Olympics. He never had a chance because at 16 his family was dead broke, and he needed to go professional to help everyone.” 

“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out, saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” Tolentino said. “But the Senator can no longer vie for qualification in the Asian Games in Hangzhou next month.”, Tolentino said.

Tolentino also stated that the POC has begun discussions with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is overseeing Olympic boxing while the International Boxing Association (IBA)  is suspended, and the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).

Three options were explored for Pacquiao this year, through the Asian Games, through the Universality Rule, and through the two tournaments next year.

The first option was already ruled out as the Asian Games, an Olympic qualifying event, have a 40 year-old age limit in all sports.

The next two options are then his only chances of ever joining the PH team in the Paris Olympics next year. Tolentino explained that he could either join the PH team by winning in the two tournaments that will commence in the first and second quarters of 2024 or by securing one Olympic spot (out of four spots available for men) under the Universality rule from the OIC. 

Tolentino also said that the ABAP, headed by their chairman, Ricky Vargas, will be able to accommodate Pacquiao on the national team and help him in the qualification process. Pacquiao is currently weighing in at 66 kilograms, but he can choose between 63.50 kilograms and 71 kilograms for the Paris boxing program.

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