HOLLYWOOD – After a day of hard work at the Wild Card gym, Manny Pacquiao relaxed in the confines of his multi-million mansion in Los Angeles playing the two other sports close to his heart – chess and darts.
The boxing great sat down for a few hours on Saturday night to play chess against members of his entourage and some eager visitors, including an eight-year-old kid of a Filipino couple who are already based here and veteran sportswriter Roy Luarca of the Inquirer, who’s been covering Pacquiao fights for almost a decade now.
If that’s not enough, he later joined some friends in a darts tournament which offered cash prizes.
Winchell Campos, a longtime Pacquiao aide and a mean chess player himself, said the eight-time world champion usually plays both games as his way of taking his mind away from boxing.
“Matagal ng nagche-chess si Manny, noong time pa nila (Rod) Nazario, nakikita ko na siyang naglalaro said Campos.
The 35-year-old boxer and Sarangani congressman, who is set to challenge Timothy Bradley for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title next week, had been hooked to chess so much so that he even played against the very best the country ever produced, ranging from the first Asian Grandmaster Eugene Torre to GM Rogelio Barcenilla.
As a chess player, Pacquiao is a mean trash talker.
“O, alam mo ba ang ginagawa mo?” he told to one of his opponents after making a move.
In between, the boxing great even had the time to ask who won between Kentucky and Wisconsin in the US NCAA Final Four being viewed live at the living room of his house. Apparently, his attention was caught when the small crowd watching the game shouted in unison after Aaron Harrison nailed a huge three-pointer in the final five seconds to give the Wildcats a 74-73 lead.
After a few rounds of chess, Pacquiao stopped and said, “Pagod na rin ako.”
But with a dart case safely placed on the table just beside him, the eight-time world champion readily stood up and preceded to an adjacent room where the darts tournament was simultaneously ongoing.
As to how he fared in darts, that’s another story to tell.