Today I continue WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, #HAWMC. (I’m answering yesterday’s question today because I didn’t have Internet access yesterday.)
Day 16. Wordless Wednesday. We all know a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Post/share a picture that relays a message or story to the viewer.
I made this collage of boxer Manny Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez from their fourth fight (2012, top picture) and a picture of his fight against Timothy Bradley (April 12, 2014), whom he defeated. The contrast between the two pictures screams resilience to me. Manny Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to have belts in eight different weight divisions. When Manny Pacquiao fights, it is a holiday for Filipinos around the world. Pacquiao, a man who came from abject poverty, has used his millions to build schools and hospitals in the Philippines. In addition to being an athlete, Pacquiao is serving his second term in Congress. Basically, Pacquiao’s story is more Rocky than anything Sly Stallone could have written and we all know how much I love Rocky.
How “Pacman” Inspires Me to Fight My illnesses
Before I get to last weekend’s fight, I should first tell you why he’s so important to me. I saw my first Pacquiao fight in December 2008 when he defeated iconic boxer Oscar De La Hoya. I was bedridden at the time deep in the trenches fighting my autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis (MG). The doctor had given me a 50/50 shot of beating it and I was 24-years old. Before getting MG, I’d fought bipolar disorder and polycystic ovarian syndrome for years.
Before the fight, Pacquiao had already made a name for himself but the De La Hoya fight changed everything because De La Hoya is/was a huge name outside of boxing. That night, virtually every HBO commentator was putting down Manny’s chances. Everyone commented on how he was “too small” to win referring to the four-inch height difference between “Pacman” and De La Hoya. It annoyed me. It reminded me of having bipolar disorder and how people would underestimate me. I’ve met people who think people with mental illness aren’t strong enough to handle pressure. But it only made me work harder. I graduated from Northwestern University cum laude with two majors. That night, Pacquiao ran circles around De La Hoya. He was just too fast and too strong. The fight ended with De La Hoya quitting breathlessly on his stool in the eighth round. After the fight, every commentator said Manny Pacquiao was a force to be reckoned with. Over the years, Pacman would go on to defeat other fighters with electrifying performances most infamously vanquishing Ricky Hatton in the second round.
On June 9, 2012, Pacquiao fought the much younger Timothy Bradley. Going into the fight, Pacman was on a 15-fight winning streak. Pacman was too fast for Bradley landing almost 90 more punches. Even by percentage, Pacman won by a landslide. Then something bizarre happened. Two of the three Las Vegas judges declared Bradley the winner. Skip Bayless called it the greatest robbery in boxing. (Both judges have since been banned from boxing.) Later that year, Pacquiao faced off against Juan Manuel Marquez (JMM) for a fourth time. In their fourth fight, JMM knocked out Pacman in the sixth round. He knocked him out cold. It was shocking. Many analysts declared Pacquiao as over the hill. Some said his career would never recover. Last fall, Pacman returned to fight a much younger Brandon Rios. Two weeks before that fight, Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines—killing thousands and displacing millions. When Pacman beat Rios via unanimous decision, he gave hope to so many Filipinos. If he could rise again, they would too.
Last weekend, Pacquiao had a rematch with Bradley who came into the fight 31-0 (undefeated). Two years since their first fight, Bradley was much more experienced and it showed in the first round. However, he couldn’t keep up with 35-year old Pacquiao’s speed. Whenever it seemed like Bradley had an opening, Pacquiao would stun with dizzying eight, nine, and even twelve-punch combinations. Pacman delivered his most impressive performance in four years and won via unanimous decision. Living with chronic illness means defying expectations. It’s about rising from every defeat or injustice you’ve faced with new strength. It’s about resilience.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
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