MANILA, PHILIPPINES, APRIL 29, 2010 (PHILBOXING.COM) By Ronnie Nathanielsz PhilBoxing.com - Jinkee Pacquiao, the charming wife of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, is proving to be a major asset in the boxing hero’s campaign for a congressional seat representing Sarangani in the May 10 elections.

On the ground reports from the province which is the birth place of Jinkee say she continues to campaign separately for her husband and it is paying off, even as Pacquiao himself hits the campaign trail relentlessly, just as when he trains for a big fight.

Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz told insidesports.ph, Standard Today and Viva Sports that the latest polls show Pacquiao ahead against his rival Roy Chiongbian of the rich and powerful Chiongbian family which has dominated politics in Sarangani for decades.

Koncz said he told Pacquiao to continue to fight as though he was the underdog and not to rely on surveys. Koncz said Pacquiao “looks very tired” because of the rigorous demands of the political campaign but wakes up each morning and hits the road saying he wants to help bring about change and progress.

He said boxing is not on the mind of “The Fighter of the Decade” and all he wants to do is to get a chance to represent his constituents in the House of Representatives and to help the poor which has been a dream of Pacquiao for the past ten years when he told the late father-figure, mentor and business manager Rod Nazario and this reporter that he wanted to enter public service to be able to help his poor countrymen.


Leading lady Jinkee Pacquiao becoming political gold in Manny Pacquiao election campaign [PHOTO AT LEFT - THE TEAM - JINKEE AND MANNY]

[Gareth A Davies has been a sports journalist for The Daily Telegraph since 1993. He is Boxing and MMA Correspondent. Has been intrigued by fight and combat sports from a young age. Personal sporting passions are rugby, cricket, and martial arts. Hates getting his hair cut. Leading lady Jinkee Pacquiao becoming political gold in Manny Pacquiao election campaign

Behind every great fighter is an even greater leading lady. So it is proving even on the exhausting electioneering trail the Filipino boxer is waging in The Philippines, as he attempts to win the sole congressional seat for the province of Sarangani, in the southern Philippines.

It is here where Pacquiao the would-be politician, at his most humble, most needs his wife of ten years. Sarangani is her birthplace, where her family still resides, and where she was raised as a child. That alone has created serious capital for the campaign.

That fact alone may have put her husband, an improbable winner, ahead on the polls.

According to Jinkee, her husband leads in poll surveys as the election approaches, just 20 days away. The Filipino boxer, who has earned world title belts across seven weight divisions, is running for the second time as a congressman, this time for a different province.

The million dollar question is whether Pacquiao can transfer his phenomenonal popularity as a personality into political capital. Many of his fans believe the dichotomy is that once elected his aura of invincibility, and the manner in which he beautifully reflects the filipino nation abroad, could be emasculated if he becomes embroiled in the sometime murky world of filipino politics.

Jinkee has been actively participating in the campaign, often separately from her husband. “We are actually ahead in the surveys but now we really have to maximize our efforts and time,” Jinkee, a former beauty consultant, revealed last weekend.

This is the second time the world’s No 1 pound for pound boxer Pacquiao has run for congress. He lost the race in his first attempt in 2007 in General Santos City against incumbent Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who said at the time, “more than anything, I think, people weren’t prepared to lose him as their boxing icon”.

Jinkee says she is confident her husband can make a difference—especially in the life of poor residents. “We talked about it and I believe in his good intentions to serve the people of Sarangani,” said Jinkee. “Manny and I can’t let our supporters down. The people need help.”

Pacquiao, boxer turned politico, is convinced by a self-propelled, quasi-messianic belief that he can make a difference to the lives of poor people in his country. His own life, he says, serves as the example. He was raised in poverty, with dignity, and slept on wooden boards on a boxing ring canvas at night in a tumbledown gym in Manila as he was making his way into boxing as a teenager, having started fighting for a couple of dollars per bout. For him, and in his mind, anything is possible.

Hope springs from him…I have witnessed that in the huge queues of hundreds of Filipinos who gather outside Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, in Hollywood, often waiting four or five hours to spend a few seconds up close with him to exchange a few words. He is the Midas man, a talisman for them all. And they all believe he is blessed…

“I’ll show you how to make a big difference. I want you all to idolize me not just in the ring but above all, in public service.” Where he has departed from the norm, is in not criticising his rivals.

While many of his boxing fans have urged him to bow out of the election race, those close to him suggest his zeal for daily campaigning knows no bounds, his relentlessness mirroring his training camps, in Los Angeles, ahead of championship fights.

Pacquiao’s adviser, the Canadian Michael Koncz, also suggested this week that the latest polls show Pacquiao has edged ahead against his rival Roy Chiongbian, a member of the powerful Chiongbians, a dynastic and politically dominant family within Sarangani for decades.

Yet Pacquiao, unusually, remains the underdog in this contest.

Should he win – and it appears it will go to the wire and could be a split decision from voters – he will go on to fight for the welfare of his constituents in the House of Representatives. In his home town, General Santos City, Pacquiao has already donated funds for ambulances, hospital beds, and has even set up a school in his name, with grants for children and families. Those close to him fear that he will end up with no money, as his messianic zeal as a do-gooder knows no bounds.

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s American boxing promoter, told The Telegraph that he is convinced he will be inviting his man up to the dais for his next championship as “The Honourable Congressman Manny Pacquiao”.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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