Book Review: PacMan
Just got done reading the Manny Pacquiao biography, PacMan: Behind the Scenes with Manny Pacquiao--the Greatest Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World, by Gary Andrew Poole. I realize that Pacquiao’s autobiography Pacman: My Story of Hope, Resilience, and Never-Say-Never Determination came out pretty much concurrently, but I just happened to get my hands on the former first. I’m planning on picking up the latter book at some point as well.
I must say, I am quite impressed by the Poole book. It’s not just a pure boxing book since Poole delves into the cultural significance of the PacMan and attempts to give a proper recounting of who exactly Pacquiao is. There is an exploration of the cultural differences between Filipinos and other more Western cultures (i.e. Americans, Europeans) and how this may account for the vast confusion about Pacquiao. For example, he offers an explanation for Pacquiao’s ridiculous entourage. Poole writes, “In the Philippines, it isn’t easy to be a loner. Families and friends congregate in groups. People flow in and out of homes like a constant block party… The Philippines is definitely not a good place to have personal space issues. The entourage clearly reflects Pacquiao’s cultural make-up.” 1 It seems possible that Filipinos like being around each other more so than other cultures. Therefore, perhaps when Pacquiao travels to bouts on rented 747s with 200+ people, we shouldn’t see an obnoxious act (as some “haters” would imply) but rather a man trying to feel at home even while thousands of miles away from his homeland.
Poole also indirectly addresses the biggest controversy surrounding Pacquiao. Most of the Pacquiao skeptics continually find it odd that he won’t acquiesce to Floyd Mayweather, Jr.’s drug testing demands. They will point out that it makes no sense that a fighter could be so thrown off by the simple act of giving blood. They ask: Why give up $50 million dollars? Reading Poole’s work leads me to believe that Pacquiao doesn’t think like a Westerner. We must remember that Manny and his crew are from a Third World Country. They don’t see the world like people from modern countries. I have come to the conclusion that they value and understand things from a much different perspective than we do in the US. Poole quotes Alex Ariza referencing the superstitious nature of Pacquiao and his Filipino countrymen: “Very Third World. Suspicious of vaccinations, that sort of thing.” 1 We must be cognizant of the fact that not all peoples and cultures see the world as we see it. Our perspective as Americans makes us interpret situations very differently.
Obviously there are also great recaps of some of Pacquiao’s most important fights. His breakout performances against Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales as well as his more recent conquests of Ricky Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya are reviewed in detail. Again, however, I am more fascinated by the exploration into the personal side of Pacquiao including descriptions of his relations with his entourage, his religious zeal, and the current and potential effect that he has on his country.
This one’s a winner in my book (pun intended). I’d recommend picking it up.
[Side-note: This could be a great holiday gift for the Pacquiao fan in your life. :) ]
1. Poole, Gary Andrew. PacMan: Behind the Scenes with Manny Pacquiao--the Greatest Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010.