MANILA, Philippines – The first boxer to ever knock out Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao now lives in a small shanty beside a river full of garbage and sells mami in Tondo for a living – a stark contrast to the life of the boxer who came to be known as the “Pacman.”
In 1996, a then 24-year-old Rustico Torrecampo knocked out the 17-year-old Pacquiao in Mandaluyong, in a bout aired by the IBC 13 show “Blow by Blow.”
Pacquiao entered the bout undefeated, with a record of 11-0. But Torrecampo, who then had a record of 11 wins, four losses and five draws, knocked him out in the third round of their 10-round fight.
But Torrecampo’s promising boxing career was shattered when he injured his wrist in his first fight after beating Pacquiao. He retired in 1997, a year after handing Pacquiao his first professional loss.
Now, Torrecampo, known as “Dodong” to many, sells mami for a living. He has a wife and four children.
He earns P500 a day – P1,000 on good days. When business isn’t good, they starve.
“Ang kain namin, walang almusal. Gigising na lang ng tanghali, para tanghalian tapos hapunan na,” said Torrecampo. “Pahirap ng pahirap ang buhay.”
Like most Filipinos, Torrecampo tuned in last Sunday to watch Pacquiao fight his Mexican rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“’Yung kumpiyansa niya, overconfident ba,” was his observation after watching his one-time foe.
But he also believes that it was a lucky punch that sent Pacquiao to the canvas in the sixth round.
“Walang magaling sa tsamba. Panalong-panalo si Pacquiao,” Torrecampo said.
He explained that Marquez was already being battered, and a losing boxer will simply throw punches in the hopes of scoring a knockout.
Torrecampo once received P20,000 from Pacquiao after giving the eight-division world champion a massage. This was after the “Pacman” defeated “Sugar” Shane Mosley via unanimous decision.
They have not crossed paths since, but Torrecampo says he is willing to do anything for the man he once put to sleep inside the ring.
“Kung pwede kong kayurin ang libag niya or paputiin ang talampakan niya, para kumita lang, gagawin ko,” he said.
Despite their poverty, Torrecampo does not show any sign of bitterness and maintains a positive outlook.
“Kesa malungkot ka, tumawa ka na lang tumawa. Busog ka pa sa hangin,” he said while laughing.
Torrecampo also refuses to think of what could have been, of what his life would be like had he not gotten injured and continued his career.
“Pag iniisip ko na dapat ako doon, sasama lang ang loob ko,” he said, and then joked: “Kung ako nandoon, hindi kayo makakatikim ng mami ko. Gusto niyo ba si Pacman ang magtinda ng mami?”