BORN in Kibawe in the Philippines, eight days before Christmas in 1978, Manny Pacquiao’s childhood was not filled with cheer. His family struggled to survive such was the poverty, and Pacquiao has told tales of eating just once a day and sleeping in the street. Exactly what he ate on certain days left a lot to be desired. There is a story that goes: family starving so daddy kills the dog and cooks it.
At the age of 16, the teenage waif – often forced to use his fists to survive on the streets – sneaks on to a ferry to Manila, and lies about his age (says he’s 18) so he can become a professional boxer. The malnourished youngster is unbeaten in his first 11 fights but the temptations that money brings – gambling and alcohol – soon hack away at his natural discipline and he loses fight No.12 when Rustin Torrecampo flattens the flyweight (108lbs) in three rounds.
Shocked by his stumble, he vows to take the sport seriously again.