Manny Pacquiao, champion boxer, local hero

Thirty-five year old Manny Pacquiao, a champion boxer in six weight classes, holds a special place of pride with his local countrymen. When pitted against American Brandon Rios last November, the fight became historic in terms of cash it generated for Macau, Asia’s gambling capital. Pacquiao’s win in front of more than 13,000 boxing fans made it a sellout event.

Bob Arum, CEO of Las Vegas boxing promoter Top Rank, who has Pacquiao as a client, said the match “couldn’t have been more of a success (as the fight generated) “well in excess of $30 million.” Arum says that Pacquiao is one of the few professional boxers that can attract an American pay-per-view audience.

Success did not come easy for Pacquiao even though boxing was one of the few known paths out of poverty for a boy from a poor rural family. After turning pro at 16, Pacquiao quickly became known for his fast punches and insatiable fighting spirit. He is recognized as one of the best attacking boxers of all time and remains a sports icon in his home country. He is also a devout Christian, a sitting congressmen and active philanthropist. He devotes his personal time to fighting for the underprivileged.

According to a recent Forbes magazine survey, Pacquiao earned $41.8 million last year, making him number 11 among the world’s highest paid athletes. Two years ago – before his one year away from the ring — Pacquiao out-earned Tiger Woods, making him the second highest paid athlete in the world. Regardless, he is remains the highest-paid athlete in Asia.