In an uncharacteristically emotional article written by Ronnie Nathanielsz for Philippine Daily Inquirer, he said Pacquiao is the greatest of them all, including Ali.
I say not.
Nathanielsz said, "Ali, for all his greatness and his charismatic personality and glibness, had one trait that reflected poorly on him, especially in comparison to Pacquiao. That was his habit of insulting and mocking his opponents. He referred to Joe Frazier, a great champion himself, as a “Gorilla.”
I say, Pacquiao, for all his greatness and his charismatic personality, has traits that reflected poorly on him. One is allowing himself to be surrounded by dirty politicians. Just how many Filipinos the world over want to shoot the TV set when Chavit Singson climbs the ring each time Pacquiao wins a fight? Or that former "First Gentleman" who joined the bandwagon in the ring like a king? Or that former non-President who if had not been restrained would have claimed Pacquiao's victories as her doing? Or the countless congressmen and half a dozen senators who hugged a share of Pacquiao's limelight? What about that Hawaiian shirted father and son who sandwiched Pacquiao in parades showing off Pacman as theirs and so was the city that "adopted" him for a son?
Two, his gambling. Three, his womanizing. (Now, I just have to include those. Nathanielzs is running to Vatican to ask the Pope to canonize Pacman.)
Nathanielsz said, "Greatness must be judged not merely by overpowering performances in the ring but in the humility and decency with which a fighter conducts himself outside of it. Pacquiao is the supreme example of what a fighter and a gentleman should be."
Nathanielsz also listed down Pacquiao's saintly acts:
"Despite the fact that Oscar De La Hoya said his fight against Pacquiao was 'personal' and that he would knock him out, when Manny pulverized the 'Golden Boy' and rearranged his handsome face, he embraced him in the center of the ring and said for all the world to hear, 'You are still my idol.'
"When a bloodied David Diaz crashed to the canvas in a heap, Manny sought to give him a helping hand.
"When he separated Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton from his senses, he showed concern and sought to lift him up. And when Hatton was embroiled in a drug scandal, he advised him to pick up the pieces of his life and look up to God for solace and assistance.
"When he battered Antonio Margarito, Manny felt compassion for the Mexican. Margarito and his trainer Robert Garcia had promised to knock Pacquiao out and in the process ridicule trainer Freddie Roach because of his Parkinson’s disease.
"He requested referee Laurence Cole to stop the massacre and even asked Margarito whether he was alright before laying off him in the last two rounds."
I say, you start talking about character traits as the best gauge to being called the greatest, you ought to have dug deeper into the other sports heroes' characters. Particularly Ali.
It was from Ali that Mayweather got the "trash talk" strategy to wobble the knees of the opponents in pre-fights. Mayweather couldn't hack Ali's fight style to "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," he settled with the trash talk.
But with Ali's trash talks, were sentiments and beliefs that put all of America to shame when the American government arrested him and found him guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped him of his boxing title, and suspended his boxing license. All these because he refused to join a war he didn't believe in.
Ali might have said the famous line during the promotion of Thrilla in Manila: "It will be a killa... and a chilla... and a thrilla... when I get the gorilla in Manila," but he also said:
"I ain't got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger. ” (Haas, Jeffrey (2009). The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Lawrence Hill Books.)
“No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.” ("Muhammad Ali — The Measure of a Man." (Spring 1967)).
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" (Haas)
Now, Pacquiao could have been half as great as Ali in terms of character had he refused to kiss the hands of Gloria and her cohorts. Pacquiao can be half as great as Ali if he can show more strength in character not just in brawn.
Let us not gloss over Manny's humility. The man came from dirt poor beginnings, how can he not be humble and thankful?
And if we believe that Manny is truly the greatest, let's stick to athletics and tell the world exactly how he rose from grit to greatness.