Bangkok Desk, Sep 29 (EFE).- Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement Wednesday morning as he prepares to run for president in his country’s general election next year.
In a Facebook video titled “Good bye Boxing” posted on his account, the 42 year old from Kibawe, Philippines said his retirement was difficult for him to accept.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I’m at peace with it. Chase your dreams, work hard, and watch what happens,” he said amid overlayed clips of him boxing, speaking in parliament and sentimental music.
Pacquiao, champion in eight different boxing divisions, said his only concern now will be to contest the presidency of the Philippines, where he has been a senator for the PDP-Laban party since 2016. He officially presented his bid on Sep. 19 and will run against former actor and Manila Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso and ex-police Gen. Panfilo Lacson.
Originally aligned with outgoing President Rodrigo Durterte, Pacquiao criticized the leader’s policies in the South China Sea conflict, creating infighting within the party they share. Duterte, who is not allowed to seek a second term, presented his bid for vice president earlier this month.
The Philippine and world boxing legend, who has secured a spot in the Boxing Hall of Fame, was champion in the Flyweight, Super Bantamweight, Featherweight, Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Super Lightweight, Welterweight and Super Welterweight divisions.
Hours before Pacquiao made his retirement official, the World Boxing Association said it will recognize Pacquiao as its “Centennial Champion”.
“As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world, especially to the Filipino people, for supporting me,” he said.
The last time he stepped into the ring was in August, losing by a unanimous decision to Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in a fight for the association’s welterweight title in which he looked slow and far from his best.
Pacquiao said he was the first to be amazed at his achievements, after having grown up in extreme poverty.
The presidential candidate, who has appealed to his countrymen for becoming successful despite growing up impoverished, espouses a conservative Evangelical ideology.
Pacquiao credits this for his success and happiness, earning him support in a country where at least 90 percent of people practice some form of Christianity.
“I’m happy. I’m always happy because God is with me,” he told the media in 2016 while training in the Philippines.
But his Christian views, especially those on homosexuality, have previously drawn criticism from human rights defenders.
In an incident that caused Nike to drop his sponsorship deal in 2016, Pacquiao said LGBT people are “worse than animals” and posted Bible extracts on social media calling on homosexuals to be “put to death.”
Homosexuality in the Philippines is not outlawed, but same-sex marriage is illegal. EFE