I may not seem like a boxing fan…and that’s probably because I’m not, but what I am a fan of, is inspiration. And inspiration is what I felt within minutes of watching the premier of Manny, the movie based on the constantly-ignited Philippine boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao, held at the TCL Chinese TheatreTuesday night in Hollywood.
After Pacquiao expressed his sincere gratitude to everyone who helped make the film, and his life possible at the front of the theatre, the audience comprised of all of Hollywood fell silent, and the movie began. Narrated by Liam Neelson, the documentary-style film opens with a shockingly heart-wrenching clip of Pacquiao getting knocked out cold in the ring. I was slightly confused, but it adds to the overall story.
The film then redirects to the beginning of Pacquiao’s life, where we follow him to his birthplace in Kibawe, Bukidon, Philippines. Pacquiao explains how his family was very poor, and how he grew up in a hut in the jungle with his mother and six siblings. Pacquiao says he would work tirelessly as a child and even gets in the water with local fisherman to show how he used to catch fish when he was a little boy to make money for the family.
He’s really small in real life anyway, disregard bad camera skills.
It’s sad to see such poverty, especially amongst children, but Pacquiao’s story shows a truly strong person who literally fought his way out of it, and inspired thousands of others to do the same. He also has quite the sense of humor! While talking about his first time seeing cars at the age of 5, he reenacted how scared and confused he was and how he would hide every time one would pass.
Pacquiao as a tween
The movie then progresses through his adolescence, when he first started fighting despite his small stature, and explains how he’d compensate by putting heavy objects in his pants to make weight limits. He was also living on the streets in Manila at the age of 14, just so that he could box and win money for his family. Soon he had no one left to fight in the Philippines, with a record of 60 wins out of 64 fights, so he and his wife “Jinkee” (they married in 2000) went to the United States.
The middle of the story reveals Pacquiao’s rise to the top of the boxing world. From meeting his trainer Freddie Roach and taking on one of the best boxers just 10 days after arriving in America, to knockout after knockout of dozens of boxers whose names I would definitely have to Google. All I know is that Pacquiao was like an Energizer jack-rabbit with boxing gloves and an enormous heart.
But the rise to the top always comes with consequences. The plot twists when Manny starts gambling, drinking, and getting involved with other women (which was slightly awkward since his wife was sitting next to him in the theatre). He had numerous titles and wins, he had become part of the Philippine House of Representatives, and was in dozens of acting, modeling, commercial, and promo gigs, but he was also trying to do everything at once. When his wife didn’t come to one of his fights for the first time since he started, it took a drastic toll on him.
He won the fight, but realized he needed to focus on what was important to him, and to “be the person God wants him to be”. He quit drinking, gambling, and dabbling with groupies, and refocused his life around family, boxing, and God. Oh, and singing. Apparently the number one boxer in the world loves to sing classical love ballads, and is actually not terrible at it.
Anyway, after defeating 7 weight classes (look at that, I even learned boxing terms!) he had no where to go but up, and after much dispute with his managers and trainers, he went for number 8, and won that one too. Then there was talk about fighting Mayweather, the former number-one-pund-for-pound boxer, but it never happened for several speculative reasons.
Throughout the movie, which took four years to make, you see flashbacks to early footage of Pacquiao’s early boxing years, which reminds you of how far he’s come. You also see footage of impoverished Philippine people crowding around a single TV with looks of hope in their eyes for their hero to win the fights. To them, he is an inspiration, because he came from nothing and is now the number one boxer in the world, and he’s from the Philippines.
Jinkee & Manny Pacquiao, Jay Bajaj
To Pacquiao, it was his goal to be an inspiration to the people, and he says that every fight is for them, for his family, and is by the will of God.
So whether you’re a boxing fan or not, Manny will definitely inspire you, make you laugh, and keep you on the edge of your seat. I probably flinched ten times waiting to see if a punch was going to be a knockout…it’s no wonder producer Jay Bajajwent into hiding during Pacquiao’s most recent fight vs. Algieri right before the big movie premier! Don’t worry, he won.
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!