Sports News

Manny Pacquiao to use political clout for Olympic goals

Newly elected Philippine congressman and world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao speaks as he votes for the new Speaker during the opening of the 15th Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Erik de Castro

MANILA (Reuters) - Seven-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao made a vow to improve life in his poor southern hometown and to help the Philippines win a first Olympic gold medal in his maiden speech as a lawmaker in Congress.

The Philippines has won nine medals, including two silvers from boxing, since it first attended the Summer Games in 1924.

“I want us all to work together and to work very hard to win the first Filipino gold medal in the Olympics,” Pacquiao said in his speech in the lower house of Congress late on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Pacquiao, ranked as the world’s fifth highest-earning athlete this year by Sports Illustrated, outlined legislative goals of improving livelihoods, education and health care for his Sarangani province.

“Forty percent of the people of Sarangani have no adequate housing, no adequate food and no proper nutrition. For those 40 percent, it’s not just a statistic. It’s their daily experience of life,” Pacquiao said, adding he had experienced it too.

He promised to use his congressional funds to build schools, hospitals and provide alternative skills training for poor farmers and fishermen in his three-year term.

Pacquiao is expected to take some time off from politics to prepare for a November bout against either Mexican Antonio Margarito or Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto after failing to reach a deal for a super fight with undefeated American Floyd Mayweather.

Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by John Mair and John O’Brien