At a January 21 press conference in New York to promote his upcoming fight against Tim Bradley, Manny Pacquiao was asked what he thought about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Trump seems to be patterning his campaign on the Floyd Mayweather model: Rub how much money you have in people's faces and talk incessantly about how great you are.
Further to that point; the Trump electoral phenomenon can be analogized to an election for homecoming queen on a college campus where a John-Belushi-like character dresses in drag and enters the competition. People might enjoy the spectacle. But at the end of the day, most of them wouldn't want Belushi in drag as their significant other.
in addition to readying for the Bradley fight, Pacquiao is running for the Senate in his native Philippines. The election will be held May 9. Weighing the plusses and minuses of commenting on Trump, Pacquiao responded, "I don't want to get into politics here, We have our own politics."
They do indeed. And last month in conjunction with those politics, Pacquiao was interviewed by TV5. When asked about his views on gay marriage, candidate Pacquiao declared, "It's common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals."
Next came a post on Instagram from Pacquiao that read, "I'd rather obey the Lord's command than obey the desires of the flesh. I'm not condemning anyone, but I'm just telling the truth of what the Bible says. The truth from the Bible is what changed me from my old ways." [Quoting I Corinthians 6:9] 'Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.'"
Faced with a storm of protest over his remarks, Pacquiao issued a non-apologetic apology on Twitter: "I'm sorry for everyone who got hurt due to my comparison of gay people to animals. It was my mistake. Please forgive me for those who I've hurt. But this does not change my position against same sex marriage. That's what I believe. My only mistake is comparing gay people to animals."
But that pretense of an apology was shortlived. One day later, Pacquiao posted another Bible verse on Instagram: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." [Leviticus 20:13]
Finally, on February 19, Pacquiao met with reporters at his training camp in General Santos City and was asked about the controversy that had erupted over his remarks.
"I'm happy," Pacquiao answered. "I'm always happy because God is with me. What I am saying is right. I am just stating the truth, what the Bible says. You know what I am telling is the truth."
On February 17, Nike (which had enjoyed a ten-year commercial relationship with Pacquiao) issued a statement saying, "We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao."
That was followed by a March 2 statement from HBO that read, "Next month, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr are scheduled to meet in a pay-per-view bout. We have an obligation to both fighters and, therefore, will proceed to produce and distribute that event. However, we felt it important to leave no uncertainty about our position on Mr. Pacquiao's recent comments toward the LGBTQ community. We consider them insensitive, offensive and deplorable. HBO has been a proud home to many LGBTQ stories and couldn't approach this event without clearly voicing our opinion."
Pacquiao isn't alone in the boxing world when it comes to making homophobic statements. Tyson Fury caused a stir with remarks that he made last November. But Fury is widely regarded as a madman and is not a candidate for public office (although these days, the two often seem to coincide). Pacquiao, on the other hand, is seeking a position that would empower him to translate his prejudices into public policy.
So it's worth asking: Does Manny Pacquiao really believe that gay men should be put to death?
And while we're on the subject, there's another Biblical verse that should be scrutinized. Leviticus Chapter 25, verse 44 states, "Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are around you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids."
Does Pacquiao countenance slavery?
The current Pacquiao controversy is focused on his interpretation of the Bible and gay marriage. So what does Pacquiao think about other Biblical dictates regarding marriage:
(1) Marriage shall consist of a union between a man and one or more women (Genesis 29:17-28, II Samuel 3:2-5).
(2) Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives (II Samuel 5:13, I Kings 11:3, II Chronicles 11:21).
(3) A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).
(4) The marriage of a believer and a non-believer is forbidden (Genesis 24:3, Numbers 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Nehemiah 10:30).
(5) Divorce shall not be allowed (Deuteronomy 22:19, Mark 10:9).
(6) If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry his widow. If the brother refuses to marry the widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law (Genesis 38:6-10, Deuteronomy 25:5-10).
Veteran sportswriter Bill Dwyre recently observed, "Pacquiao is a decent, hard-working, rise-from-the-ashes person who is generous and caring and the last person on the face of the Earth you would expect to verbalize himself into this corner of public hell. I have covered most of his important fights, admired his patience and work ethic, even stood within feet of him that night in May of 2010, when the key precinct result came in for the Congressional spot he sought in the Philippines' Sarangani province. He had been an urchin on the streets less than two decades before and now he was a Congressman."
That said; some people get wiser when they get older. Pacquiao seems to be just getting older. In recent years, his ring image has lost some of its lustre. Now his image outside the ring has been tarnished. And his world might be crumbling.
A Pulse Asia survey conducted at the end of February showed a 12 percent drop in voter support for Pacquiao during the previous month. Twelve Senate seats will be filled on May 9. As of February 29, Pacquiao had fallen from #10 to #14 on a list of candidates vying for those seats.
A loss to Bradley on April 9 wouldn't help either.
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent book - The Baker's Tale: Ruby Spriggs amd the Legacy of Charles Dickens - was published by Counterpoint. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for Career Excellence in Boxing Journalism. He is a consultant to HBO Sports.