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Boxing | International

Manny gives up cockfighting



Manny Pacquiao has given up gambling, cockfighting and other vices to become a goodwill ambassador for the Catholic Church.

Pacquiao, one of the richest men in the Philippines and a national icon, has announced that he sold his shares in a Manila casino, a nightclub and a bar.

He is giving away all his fighting cocks to friends.

"I am no longer in the vice business. I've sold my shares in a big nightclub along with my shares in a Manila casino outlet," the 32-year-old fighter told reporters.

"I realise I was a weak person before. If I had died I believe my soul would have ended in hell," he said.

"I had faith, but I was doing things which were against the will of God."

Pacquiao’s aides say the eight-time world champion owned more than a thousand roosters, worth more than $700 000 (R5.3 million).

Cockfights are regarded as a Philippine blood sport in which the birds fight to the death, “armed” with sharp metal spurs.

His remaining pastime is basketball, said Pacquiao, who is also a member of the Philippine parliament.

Regarded as one of the best boxers of his era, Pacquiao has compiled a record of 54-3, with two drawn. He has won a record eight “world” titles in as many weight divisions.

He often cites God as the source of his ongoing success and wears a rosary around his neck before and after fights.

However he has not escaped intrigue and reports of him womanising, despite being married, and gambling have been published.

FOUND REAL PEACE AND HAPPINESS

"I have found my real peace and happiness now," he said. "I draw strength and inspiration from reading and hearing the word of God."

He and his wife, along with friends, now read the Bible every day at home.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines said last month it had asked Pacquiao to become its ambassador.

"With all humility, yes, I am accepting the daunting task," he said.

Pacquiao’s shares in the Poker Asia casino were sold and the proceeds given to its workers, his spokeswoman, Rose Tamayo, told reporters. She did not give the value of the assets.

"It was a very lucrative business. But this only shows the congressman's resolve to change for the better," she said.



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