Champion boxer Manny Pacquiao announced on Sunday that he is running for president in his home nation of the Philippines, accepting the nomination of the PDP-Laban Party ahead of elections in May 2022.
“I boldly accept the challenge of running as PRESIDENT of the Philippines,” Pacquiao tweeted. “We need progress. We need to win against poverty. We need government to serve our people with integrity, compassion and transparency. The time is now. I am ready to rise to the challenge of leadership.”
The nomination came one month after his unanimous decision loss to WBA super welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas. Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to win championships in eight different weight classes and has won 62 fights in his career, including 39 by knockout.
Beyond boxing, Pacquiao has had an extensive political career, having been elected to the Philippines’ House of Representatives from 2010-16 and now serving as a senator. In his acceptance speech, Pacquiao criticized government corruption under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, who under the country’s constitution cannot run for re-election but is running for vice president. Duterte is also a member of the PDP-Laban party, which has seen a schism erupt within its membership during Duterte’s term.
“Your time is up! We gave you a chance, but you failed us. We waited for a long time, decades have passed, but nothing happened,” Pacquiao said.
While Pacquiao has been criticized while in Congress for his lack of attendance as he continued his boxing career, the beloved 42-year-old athlete has won over voters not only through his fame in the ring but also by sharing his childhood growing up in extreme poverty before finding his way off the streets through boxing.
“Have you ever experienced having nothing to eat, to borrow money from your neighbours [sp] or to wait for leftovers at a food stall?” he said in his speech. “The Manny Pacquiao that is in front of you was moulded [sp] by poverty.”