While in the thick of training for his upcoming fourth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao has sent a seven-man team to compete in an Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) tournament in Mindanao. Thus far, three members have reached the semi-finals as they represent the province of Sarangani, where Pacquiao is a congressman.
Pacquiao's wife, Jinkee, will be taking over as the main benefactor while also serving as the team's manager. Reportedly, Pacquiao purchased a lot of boxing equipment from the country of Thailand in hopes of accelerating the team's preparation capabilities.
"The congressman is 100 percent behind this team," said Baby Tinagsa, the head coach of the team.
The long-term goal, it appears, is to lay the foundation for a growing amateur program. A program that Pacquiao hopes one day can produce an Olympic medal prospect. It should also be noted that a family member of Pacquiao's, his second cousin Jonel Dapidran, is on the team.
This isn't a huge story, relatively speaking, in comparison to other things, but I always enjoy reading about professional athletes helping their communities back home. Pacquiao, of course, is also a member of congress, and seems sincere in wanting to help the amateur boxing program in the Philippines get on the right track to becoming a consistent winner. I'm sure Pacquiao wishes they had had a better program when he was growing up. Perhaps he, and so many others, wouldn't have turned pro while being in their mid-teens. Then again, without the luxury of getting paid as an amateur, they may have went professional regardless. An unfortunate side effect of the reality of living in poverty. Nevertheless, hopefully an improved program with better equipment and financial backing can help recruit adolescents off of the streets and into the gyms. It can't hurt.
For the record, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has donated hefty amounts to the Michigan Golden Gloves programs, among other things, in the past as well. I say that because it deserves to be mentioned, and because I'm sure someone would have brought it up in the comments.