As my friends and I were talking about Manny Pacquiao and his recent demolition of erstwhile world champion Ricky Hatton, I remembered reading a story on the newly crowned International Boxing Organization junior welterweight king’s humble beginnings at Mandaluyong City (Philippines).
Coming from poor folks at General Santos City where he grew up, Pacquiao, according to a Mandaluyong community paper, worked odd jobs as construction worker on daytime before putting on his boxing gloves in the evening to earn some more money from the ring.
His goal was to work his way up, hoping that his pursuit in boxing could help him augment his daily needs and help his family back in the province.
His desire to achieve was amazing considering that poverty in the Philippines is at an alarming level. Yet, Pacquiao, then in his early teens, fought his way up to recognition, then to honor, respectability, and now, immortality in the world’s boxing stage.
Pacquiao suffered a third-round knockout to compatriot Rustico Torrecampo in the 113-pound level, during his 12th fight as a professional. But that loss didn’t prevent him from bouncing back strong.
By the time he got the chance to fight for his first world title crack against then World Boxing Council champion Chatchai Sasakul, Pacquiao managed to score a big victory to earn his first world championship.
His second defense however, proved to be another character building, as he dropped the match even before the fight started, losing to Thai Medgoen 3K Battery in Thailand. (Pacquiao lost his title belt at the scales after failing to make the 112-pound limit).
Again, that first loss to an international fighter didn’t dampen his spirit, but spurred him to bounce back strong.
His passion and dedication for the sport, his thirst to learn for more even after all the victories and wealth he gained during the last five years of boxing—all these are major lessons that people from all walks of life could learn from.
The Apostle Paul’s verses in Romans 5:3-4 say a lot about the character building that could help us bounce back in the face of life’s stinging setbacks—Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope.
May we always be reminded that challenges are there to build our character—bouncing back strong and giving God the glory.