Boxer Manny Pacquiao (R) speaks with Pastor Jeric Soriano before a training session (Chris Farina/Top Rank)
It's not too often a boxer blasts the President of the United States, but it's also not too common that an active fighter gets elected to Congress. But boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, a freshman congressman from Sarangani Province in the Philippines, laid into President Obama because of Obama's support for gay marriage.
Pacquiao, who defends his World Boxing Organization welterweight title against Timothy Bradley on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, is a devout Catholic who has brought a spiritual advisor, Pastor Jeric Soriano, with him from the Philippines to Los Angeles. He visited Obama in the Oval Office last year, discussing basketball and boxing with the president.
In an interview with the National Conservative Examiner, Pacquiao criticized Obama's stance as an attack on the will of God.
"God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other.
"It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old."
Pacquiao's comments, along with statements in 2011 opposing birth control, put him in line with conservative Republicans and against Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), whom Pacquiao campaigned for during a hotly contested reelection campaign in 2010 against Sharron Angle. Reid may not have won without Pacquiao's late support. Ironically, Reid supports gay marriage and Angle was strongly opposed.
At the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines in 2011, Pacquiao took a hardline stance against contraception, supporting the church's position.
"God said go forth and multiply. [...] He did not say go and have just one or two children."
Pacquiao is entitled to his beliefs, but he looked a bit hypocritical when it turned out that his wife, Jinkee, nearly divorced him in November. The Los Angeles Times last week reported that trainer Freddie Roach said Jinkee Pacquiao served divorce papers upon her husband shortly before his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.Martin Rogers reported on ThePostGame.com that Jinkee Pacquiao had given her husband an ultimatum and forced him to clean up his act.
Subsequently, Pacquiao said he had a religious "awakening," and has been deep into Bible study. Roach told the Times that Pacquiao also sold a casino he owned. He's also no longer into cock fighting.
"Now, he's back with his wife, reading the Bible every day, and he's given up basketball," Roach said.
In 2006, Pacquiao signed two promotional agreements, one with Top Rank and another with Golden Boy, essentially beginning the feud between the companies that exists until this day. In the litigation, Roach testified that Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya gave Pacquiao a suitcase filled with $250,000 as an inducement to sign with GBP. De La Hoya had met Pacquiao at Los Angeles International Airport after a flight from the Philippines as he was to begin training camp.
"I never saw the suitcase open, but (De La Hoya) told me it was Manny's signing bonus, and I later heard it was $250,000, but I'm not sure of the amount," said Roach.
Pacquiao ran for Congress because of his desire to help his countrymen, many of whom live in dire poverty. He is leading the fight in Congress to build a hospital in Sarangani, where the nearest hospital is located about an hour away in General Santos City. Pacquiao has committed some of his money to the cause, and is trying to help raise the funds needed privately so the cost of the hospital won't be borne by Filipino taxpayers.
He's also a staunch opponent of human trafficking, which has been a significant problem in his country.
He's done more for his countrymen than most people have ever done for theirs, and he's to be commended for that. It's why he's one of the world's most popular athletes.
But his condemnation of Obama's stance on gay marriage would not look as suspect as it does, though, if he wasn't living such a promiscuous lifestyle only a few months ago. The timing of his comments could have been better, after he demonstrated that his recent behavior and attitude changes aren't simply short-term fixes but more permanent and fundamental in nature.
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