MANNY Pacquiao talked about his education in the “Open University of Life” even as a student organization expressed concern over the prizefighter's appearance before the Oxford Union on Monday in England.
The eight-division world boxing champion urged his audience to never lose faith in God and family in the first of two speaking engagements in the UK — he was also invited to the Cambridge Union.
The Oxford Union has had high-profile speakers from all fields from politics to religion, and several from the sporting world.
Former football star Rio Ferdinand three years ago gave a talk to the Oxford University’s debating society about sporting excellence, and two years before that Sepp Blatter spoke about being a servant of football and not a dictator.
Pacquiao discussed survival and determination.
“Think of David and Goliath. Look at me. I am not very big and I never had five smooth stones to throw at any obstacle, but determination is a power tool. I won a lot fights.”
“You, with your education, determination and faith. You can change the world,” he added.
“Miracles do happen. Dreams do come true. Being poor does not mean one must die poor. Hard work and persistence will set you free from the shackles of poverty. But it is
However, the student organization Oxford Philippines Society expressed concern over Pacquiao’s appearance before the union, questioning the senator's views on homosexuality and his stand on death penalty, among other social issues.
“The Society … would be remiss in its duties if Mr. Pacquiao’s visit to the Oxford Union is not properly put in its context. After all, his invitation into the Oxford Union, which has invited extensive media attention in the Philippines, could appear like a validation of his personal advocacies as a Senator, aside from his career in boxing,” the society said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
“Mr. Pacquiao has commented that people who engage in homosexual relations are ‘mas masahol pa sa hayop’ (worse than animals)”
“More recently, with his role as Senator, Mr Pacquiao has been pushing for the reimposition of capital punishment … with a specific focus on drug related offences in obvious support for Philippine president Duterte’s “war on drugs.”
The OPS noted that Pacquiao “also voted against early versions of a bill that is now the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, citing the usual weak religious arguments against the promotion of artificial contraception.”
“Mr. Pacquiao probably is only capable of directly hurting other human beings by jabbing at them in boxing matches. But as a well-known athlete with the world as his stage, the reach and influence of his words, if left unchecked, might harm and knockout the incremental progress we are making to ensure a fair, equal and just world.”