Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao attends a pre-fight press conference in Macau, on August 25, 2014Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao attends a pre-fight press conference in Macau, on August 25, 2014 (AFP Photo/Dale de la Rey)
Manila (AFP) - Philippines sports legend Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday he is to open a Chinese government-backed chain of boxing academies across China to train potential future world champions.
The Chinese government will embark on the first "Manny Pacquiao Boxing Education Institute" in Beijing, with others to be built elsewhere in China later, Pacquiao announced on Manila's ABS-CBN television in a telephone call from Shanghai.
"The plan is to share with them my boxing knowledge," said the 35-year-old World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion, who has held world titles in eight weight divisions.
"With a population of 1.4 billion, they have so many boxers. So I think they would be able to produce good fighters, like world champions," he added.
"The important thing is to teach them the basics."
Pacquiao was in China this week as part of a global promotional tour ahead of his November 23 WBO welterweight title defence in Macau against unbeaten American challenger Chris Algieri.
He said he had held talks with the Chinese authorities in the past two days for the "inauguration" of a company to undertake the project.
"They (Chinese government) will put up the facilities, and if I have the time, I will visit them like once a month or once in three months to supervise them," Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao did not reveal the project's timetable or costs but added he believed the partnership could help thaw frosty ties between the Philippines and China, who are engaged in a tense territorial maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
Pacquiao defended his decision to open boxing academies in China instead of his own country, and laughed off suggestions his project would deprive the Philippines of more world champions.
"In the Philippines we don't have a problem (with producing good boxers). What our boxers need is more support," he said.
"I am already helping a few of them," he added.
Pacquiao, an elected member of congress who enjoys iconic status in the Philippines, is also an actor and a Christian preacher.
On Sunday Pacquiao was drafted as player-coach by an expansion team in the professional Philippine Basketball Association.