I’m really excited for tonight’s Paperview Fight, Pacquiao vs. Algieri. People are always surprised to find out that I’m a boxing fan. But boxing is the only visual representation of what I’m going through. Indeed, there are now words to describe the daily pain and fatigue of living with five chronic illnesses. I see myself as Rocky and my five illnesses as Rocky’s different opponents. When I used to say this, people would say, “You know Rocky is fiction?” I wanted to say, Wait Sylvester Stallone is an actor? But then Manny Pacquiao came along; his whole story is Rocky on steroids. My first Pacman fight was in 2008 when he beat the great Oscar De La Hoya by TKO in the 8th round. Before the fight, the HBO commentators kept saying Pacman was too short to win. That year, I had been diagnosed and hospitalized in critical condition with Myasthenia Gravis. But watching the 5’6 Pacquiao beat 5’10 De La Hoya inspired me.
Over the past six years, with my illnesses and my aunt surviving cancer twice, Manny has inspired my family through dark times. As the only boxer in history to win titles in eight different weight classes and a Congressman in the Philippines, his rise from third-world poverty to record-setting boxer is astonishing.
5 Lessons I Learned About Resilience From Manny Pacquiao:
- Faith–One can’t discuss Pacman without talking about faith. When I was in college and struggling with bipolar disorder and the very painful polycystic ovarian syndrome, I would watch Rocky fight scenes and pray for strength when Rocky prayed in the corner. I ended up graduating cum laude with two majors from Northwestern University. Let’s face it: There are five illnesses and one of me. I’m outnumbered but like Rocky and Pacquiao, I’ve got God in my corner. Bipolar disorder is my Apollo Creed. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is my Ivan Drago. Myasthenia Gravis is my Mason Dixon. Asthma is my Mr. T. And I’m still not sure who psoriasis is.
- We can inspire people even in our weakness–Pacman’s trainer is the 54-year old Freddie Roach, who has Parkinson’s. As a man who has trained many Hall of Famers including Mike Tyson, he is arguably the greatest boxing trainer ever. Charles Barkely once said he didn’t know what was more inspiring–watching Manny fight or watching Roach train him.
- Pep Talks Are Important–In college, when I was in a depressive episode, my friend Ron and I would quote Mickey’s words to Rocky and the Philippians 4:6-7 to each other. (v 6) Our pep talk was: “He’s no machine; he’s a man! Now get up you son of a bitch because Mickey loves you. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (v 7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Theme Songs Are Important–Manny enters the ring to Eye of the Tiger, the famous Rocky theme song. Every day I wake up in pain and tired. But I play Eye of the Tiger, put on my Rocky boxing gloves, and pray for strength to survive another day.
- You can get up again–Two years ago, in Manny’s fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, Marquez knocked him out in a now-infamous 6th round TKO. Previous to that fight, Manny won two of their matches and one was declared a draw. After a year, Manny returned to the ring, fighting just two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands of people in the Philippines. No pressure, right? Pacman dominated a much younger Brandon Rios winning every round. In his next fight, he decisively beat Timothy Bradley, a younger, bigger opponent who is also a Top Pound 4 Pound fighter. Myasthenia Gravis has knocked me out many times. In fact, the doctor gave me a 50/50 shot of living six years ago when I was 24-years old. With physical therapy this year and Reliv, I feel like I finally have the momentum against MG. I won’t win every round but I know I’m winning.
My prediction: Pacquiao beats Algieri by 9th Rd TKO or KO.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno