Today is my first day as an official member of the Ricochet team. It is an honor and delight to join.
A complaint that I often have with conservative blogs and talk radio is that they rarely report new news stories. More often, they simply regurgitate stories that have already appeared in the mainstream press—albeit the blog writer or talk-show host may add some analysis or opinion to the story.
So I’m proud to say that for my first post as an official blogger (as opposed to the guest blogging that I’ve previously done), I will report a story, which, as far as I am aware, has never been reported before. The story involves boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, his sponsor Nike, and one of the most moving and touching sights I’ve ever seen.
First some background. On December 6, 2008, Pacquiao fought fellow boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya. Pacquaio was the lightweight world champion, and he had held previous world titles at four other weight classes. De la Hoya had held titles at six different weight classes. Ring Magazine had declared him “best pound for pound boxer” in the world. The promoters of the fight billed it as “The Dream Match.”
When the fight occurred, I was visiting Pacquiao’s home country, the Philippines. It is difficult to overstate Filipinos’ admiration for Pacquiao or their excitement for the match. Earlier in the week, the Philipine National Police announced that they expected zero crime to occur during the match—the criminals would be too busy watching the match. The Muslim guerillas in the southern part of the country, who also wanted to watch the match, unilaterally announced that they would hold a cease fire. In response, the Philippine military announced that they also would hold a cease fire.
Friends told me that there were “basically zero cars on the streets” during the match. I can report that on the morning of the match, in a grocery store in the southern suburbs of Manila, the snack aisle was significantly more crowded than all the other aisles.
Pacquiao won the match in a technical knockout. Dazed at the end of the eighth round, de la Hoya conceded just as the bell rang for the ninth round.
Immediately after, the two fighters walked toward each other and embraced. “You are still my idol no matter what happened,” Pacquiao told de la Hoya. “No, you are my idol,” responded de la Hoya.
Two days after the match, as I traveled on a highway near downtown Manila, I saw an image of Pacquiao on the side of a building. The image was very large—about the size of ten normal-sized billboards. Technically, the image was an ad for Nike. The Nike swoosh, although small, was easily recognizable from the highway. In addition, smaller swooshes could be seen on Pacquiao’s shoes.
A natural pose that Nike could have chosen for the billboard would have been a typical boxing pose—say, Pacquiao looking at the camera with fists raised. Another might have been Pacquiao, arms raised in the middle of the ring, celebrating his defeat of de la Hoya.
Instead, the image was of Pacquiao, engaged in a pre-fight ritual: On his knees, in the corner of the ring, he was praying.
Beneath the image was the caption, “Just Do It.”