Already a ring icon, Manny Pacquiao still yearns for Olympic glory

Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao during a press conference

Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao during a press conference for the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association. –MARLO CUETO/

Manny Pacquiao joked that he was turned away when he first tried to make it to the national team because “I wasn’t good enough.”

“I was rejected,” he told an amused audience on Friday during the press launch of the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA).

But behind his smile, the 44-year-old Filipino icon was serious about representing the country in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I’m waiting for that,” Pacquiao said.

However, getting the eight-division champion a spot in Paris may be tricky.

Pacquiao cannot use the least complicated path to the French capital, the Asian Games in China, because he is past the age limit of 40.

Robbie Puno, the president of the national boxing federation (Abap), said the last open path for Pacquiao would be via the Universality entry.

“We’re definitely trying to make that happen,” Puno said. “He’s a ring icon who has done so much for the sport and continues to help our boxers and we would want to accommodate his wish to compete for an Olympic gold.”

But there are only four Universality slots for boxing and the International Olympic Committee will go through hundreds of requests from other countries before deciding in June next year who will get those berths.

Pacquiao said he has longed for Olympic glory since he was a kid.

“From the beginning I’ve said this, I came to Manila to join the Philippine team,” Pacquiao said. “But I wasn’t picked, so I was forced to turn pro when I was 16.”

“From the very beginning, my dream and my heart’s [wish] was to be able to win a gold medal in the Olympics.”

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