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The best boxer in the world, Manny Pacquiao, in the cover of Newsweek.


MANILA — Manny Pacquiao is all over the news.

The Filipino boxing icon, who owns probably the greatest rags-to-riches story in sports, is on this week’s cover of Newsweek’s Latin America and Philippine editions.

It’s no longer a surprise to see Pacquiao on the cover of such a widely-read magazine, but what should easily catch one’s attention is the title, “Pacquiao the Godfather.”

His face covers the entire page, signifying how big the treatment is.

But he’d been on the cover of Time magazine, and had been featured by Sports Illustrated and GQ magazine.

In the Newsweek article written by Lawrence Osborne, Pacquiao was described as a “boxer, Godfather, saint and politician.”

The author recently traveled to Manila and General Santos City to see, for himself, how Pacquiao runs his day.

He first met the boxer at the airport, and they shook hands.

Osborne must have thought it was his chance, but in the wink of an eye, Pacquiao, mobbed and surrounded by bodyguards, was gone, in a trail of SUVs.

“If I had amputated my hand, which had just shaken Pacquiao’s, I could probably have sold it to souvenir hunters,” Osborne wrote.

He quoted one of Pacquiao’s aides, who said, “It’s like trying to get lunch with Jesus Christ.”

Pacquiao is all set to face Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico for the third time, and in the article he looked back at some of the great fights he had, particularly the one against Oscar De La Hoya.

Osborne knew how big Pacquiao, the fighting congressman, is, and how he had amazingly crossed the boundaries of sports.

“To call Manny Pacquiao a boxer is one of those descriptions that don’t quite fly, like calling Mahatma Gandhi a Hindu lawyer,” he wrote.

Before he knew it, Osborne was watching Pacquiao play “Godfather” to the thousands lining up for his television game show “Manny, Many Prizes,” and around the pool tables of the Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila, and JMix in General Santos City.

In Manila he saw Pacquiao trying his luck against Filipino pool icon Efren “Bata” Reyes who just couldn’t miss a shot, and winning close to P2 million on a different night on the pool table.

In the boxer’s P35 million mansion in General Santos, Osborne found his moment, and heard what he wanted to hear from Pacquiao.

“It’s like being the parent of the whole Filipino people. I fulfill all my promises, unlike most politicians in this country,” Pacquiao told Osborne.

“Did you enjoy the hospital ceremony this morning? Sarangani, the place I grew up, doesn’t even have a hospital, not even one — 500,000 people and no hospital. So I built a hospital. Remember, I don’t need to enter politics. I have all the money I need. I could just be enjoying myself. But I have a duty to the people. I want to set the new example, to change the Philippines.”

Osborne also wrote about Pacquiao’s plans to run for governor in the next local elections in 2013, and then for senator in 2016.

But that’s getting ahead of the story.

It’s all about the Godfather for now.

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