Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (pronounced PAK-ee-ow) recently won a boxing bout for the WBO Welterweight championship against “Sugar” Shane Mosley in Las Vegas, NV. However, for Pacquiao, this was not just a boxing win, but perhaps one step closer to winning the fight against poverty.
At first, it may seem like boxing has little or nothing to do with the human dimension of sustainability, specifically eliminating poverty. After all, it is a very physical sport. Some may even argue it is a violent sport, where a successful boxer is to land the most punches or achieve a knockout during a match.
However, Pacquiao is using his boxing success and latest match as a platform for cause marketing. Over the span of twelve years, Pacquiao has won a championship in eight different weight classes, from the flyweight at 112 pounds to super welterweight at 154 pounds. He is often regarded as the number one pound for pound boxer in the world.
During his latest boxing fight, Pacquiao wore yellow gloves as a symbol of unity and hope to end poverty. (Boxing gloves are usually red or black.) Pacquiao also asked fans to wear yellow to get the message out.
Pacquiao won the boxing match in a unanimous decision. He dominated his opponent the entire fight. But that is only part of his pursuit.
“The biggest fight in my life is not in boxing. The biggest fight in my life is how to end poverty in my country [Philippines],” said Pacquiao.
When Pacquiao was growing up, he needed to stop schooling because of extreme poverty. He found himself living on the streets of Manila. He eventually found boxing to be a way to both literally and figuratively fight his way out of poverty.
“All my life, I have had to fight. As a child, I had to fight just to eat. (That) was my background when I was young. Now, when I fight, Filipinos they call me a hero. I believe this world needs more heroes,” said Pacquiao.
Pacquiao’s fight against poverty isn’t just about symbols. The symbols of unity and hope are important. But even moreso, it’s about spurring action to knock out poverty. Pacquiao himself has donated millions to the cause, ranging from education and health services, to building homes and a better lifestyle to those in poverty. He has also become a congressman to carry on the fight outside the ring.
For Pacquiao, the main event didn’t happen in the ring, but will continue outside of it. While a boxing fight can be won in one night, the fight against poverty will take many more days and many nights.