Filipino sports icon Manny Pacquiao on Saturday said the late great Muhammad Ali was a huge influence while he was still starting as a fighter.
Pacquiao, who became an eight-division boxing champion before becoming a senator, said that just like many boxers, he idolized Ali not just because of his charisma but also because of his charity work.
“Malaki ang naiambag dahil isa siya sa mga nagbigay ng inspiration sa aming mga boksingero at isa siya sa mga inspirations ko nung nagsisimula pa lang ako,” said the General Santos native.
“Kumbaga ung ginawa niya rin na pagtulog sa mga mahihirap na tao, ‘di lang sa Amerika kundi sa ibang bansa. ‘Yan ay hindi makakalimutan.”
Ali, one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time, was remembered for his silver tongue and monumental fights against fellow greats George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston.
He passed away in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, after battling Parkinson’s disease for decades. He was 74.
Pacquiao joined thousands of fans as they mourn over the death of the heavyweight legend.
“Nakikiramay tayo sa kanyang pagkamatay sa kanyang pamilya,” said the retired Filipino boxer. “’Yung nagawa niya na na-accomplish niya sa boxing, nabigay niyang pangalan sa boxing, ay hindi makakaimutan ‘yun.”
“Muhammad Ali, hindi makakalimutan ‘yan lalung lalo na sa kanyang mga nagawa sa buhay. ‘Di lamang sa larangan ng boxing at lahat ung mga nagawa niyang tulong at kabutihan para sa ating mga kababayan.”
In April last year, Ali gave a message of support for both Pacquiao and American boxer Floyd Mayweather ahead of their bout.
Ali's daughter, Rasheda, said her father "really liked Manny" and was a "huge fan" of the Filipino ring icon.
"It's more about what (Pacquiao) does outside the ring," Rasheda said. "He's such a charitable person."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)