Pacquiao embarks on career in political ring

Manny Pacquiao's new challenge likely means less boxing is in his future

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Even for a man who has accomplished more in his 31 years than the average person does in a lifetime, this is extraordinary, awe-inspiring.

This means more than winning world championships in seven weight divisions or being named Fighter of the Year three times. It dwarfs being chosen as the Fighter of the Decade and exceeds being selected as one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.

Manny Pacquiao was inaugurated as a congressman on Monday (Sunday in the U.S.) in his native Philippines in a moment that has far more significance to the world and to his people than anything he's previously done.

To this point in his young life, he's largely been an entertainer. He's a movie star and a recording artist and, of course, one of the greatest boxers of all-time.

He's also an extraordinarily generous man, giving away thousands of dollars to feed the needy and provide shelter for the homeless. His contributions help teach the illiterate to read and to clothe those who have none.

It's why he's become a national icon and one of the most significant figures in the history of the Philippine Islands.

This is a man who had to leave home and drop out of school at 14, not to box but to go to work to earn money for his impoverished family.

But he's taken the next step toward providing a better life for the indigent people of his country by winning a political office. On Friday he completed a 10-day course required of incoming legislators called Development Legislation and Governance at the Development Academy of the Philippines.

According to Yahoo! Southeast Asia, upon concluding the course, he spoke briefly at a ceremony and noted that he wants to be remembered as much for his humanitarian efforts as his accomplishments in the ring.

He spoke of his impoverished youth, of the days he sold donuts and newspapers on the streets.

He said he turned to education and then to service because he wants to share his good fortune and leave a legacy for his people.

"Looking back, I'm glad I did not let my limitation limit me," Pacquiao said. "My vision is clear. I want to leave a legacy. I want to be remembered not just as a world-class boxer but as a passionate servant leader. As a servant leader, I choose to develop my character and my confidence. I choose to learn new things, things that I do not know. I choose to re-learn the things I have not mastered. I choose to unlearn things that hinder my effectiveness. I choose to be better every day."

Pacquiao's primary goal is to improve the quality of education for those he represents in the Sarangani province and to build a much-needed hospital.

The downside for Pacquiao's numerous fans around the world is that the election to the Filipino House of Representatives almost certainly means the winding down of his boxing career.

A November fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that might bring each man as much as $40 million remains on the table and is no certainty. Pacquiao will fight Nov. 13, whether it's Mayweather or someone else.

There is little more for him to conquer in boxing. He's silenced critics and dispelled doubters. He's clearly established himself as one of the greatest fighters who has ever lived.

Nothing he can do in a fight with Mayweather will do anything to increase his profile or his stature among the Filipino people, to whom he has remained fiercely loyal despite winning unimaginable fame and riches.

As he plunges into his work as a politician, he'll see that he can make more of an impact upon his countrymen's lives on a daily basis than he could by continuing to fight.

Promoter Bob Arum has long insisted that Pacquiao would one day become the president of the Philippines. When he first said it, it seemed like so much hyperbole. But as Pacquiao embarks on his nascent political career, it now seems logical, some sort of a natural progression.

When he next fights, whether it be against Mayweather or Antonio Margarito or Miguel Cotto or someone else, ring announcer Michael Buffer will rattle off a lengthy list of his accomplishments in the ring.

Buffer will introduce Pacquiao as the former flyweight champion, the former super bantamweight champion, the former featherweight champion, the former super featherweight champion, the former lightweight champion, the former super lightweight champion as well as the reigning, defending World Boxing Organization welterweight champion.

It's all true and incredibly impressive, but Buffer will simply be wasting his breath.

If he wants to note the accomplishment of an exceptional life that defines the man, all he will need to do is say, "Congressman Manny Pacquiao."

That is more impressive than any boxing title any fighter might ever win.