Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao is one of the best boxers in the world, many consider him to be the pound for pound king of the sport. I’ve always wanted to meet him because I’m a big fight fan, and consider him to be a living legend.  After a tip from Spawn board member, OutkastxLeo, me and Mongoose headed out to Pacquiao’s training center in Hollywood, the Wildcard Gym.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao
Nat’s Thai food

After driving through heavy traffic on the 101, we arrived at the Wildcard Gym at around 1:00 pm.  The gym is located in a little strip mall a couple of blocks from the Arclight Theatre.  When we pulled up, I noticed Manny’s favorite Thai Restaurant, Nat’s. It was featured on  HBO’s 24/7 series.  Across the lot, we saw three people standing around with their boxing memorabillas.  I asked one of them if Manny will be signing after training.  He said that Manny always signs but they recently imposed a new rule, which was that Manny won’t be signing anymore because his coach, Freddie Roach, wants him to focus on his upcoming fight against Ricky Hatton on May 3rd.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao

The other fans told me that he gets out of training at around 3:00 pm. We got there at 1pm, so we had two hours to spare.  We were deciding where to eat when we noticed a group of boxers going into the Thai Restaurant.  I recognized one of the boxers, it was Gerry Penalosa!  He looked really tired and we didn’t want to bother him.  One of the guys waiting for Manny went up to Penalosa and got a boxing glove signed.

Since we were hungry and didn’t feel like driving anymore, we decided to give Manny’s favorite restaurant a shot.  As we entered the restaurant, we noticed a Filipino production crew with their cameras and tripods.  Across the table from them was Gerry Penalosa and his team.  It was a tiny restaurant but everybody was relaxed and having a good time.  I ordered my chicken rad nah and thai ice tea.  It was pretty good, but the flavor was too strong for my taste.  Gerry was paying for his meal right next to us, so I ask him for a picture.  He was surprised that I recognized him.  We talked for a little bit.  I wished him luck on his next fight, which is on Apr. 25th on HBO’s Boxing After Dark.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao
Gerry Penalosa

After we finished eating, we waited in front of the gym.  But, we noticed people walking to the back, so we followed them. There were already 30 people in front of us, one fan was even wearing a Pac Man head gear!  At around 3 o’clock, more people showed up.  The gym manager came out with Michael Moorer, a former HW boxer, and tells us that Manny will be meeting his fans.  YAY!  But since Manny had a dart tournament to attend, he’ll either sign one autograph or take one picture.  Not both.  I was contemplating but decided that a picture was better than an autograph.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao
Crowd waiting to meet Manny.

“Are you Michael Moorer?” – one guy shouted.
“No but I get that a lot”  responds Michael Moorer.

Everbody laughs.

4 o’clock comes and they start letting people in the gym.  You had to climb the stairs and enter the small doorway to get to the gym.  They were also selling movie tickets that starred Manny.  I guess Manny does everything from singing, acting, and boxing.  That’s what you call multi-talented.  We go inside the gym and noticed Manny’s legendary trainer, Freddie Roach.  He was sitting by the counter and greeting the fans.  We take a picture with him and he thanked us for stopping by.  We thank him for giving us the opportunity to meet his fighter.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao
Boxing coach legend, Freddie Roach

It was our turn to take a picture with Manny.  We decided to get a picture together and get one picture signed.  We gave the picture to the organizer and Manny signs it.  Next, we go up to Manny and sat down next to him so we can have the picture taken.  I tell him that I’m a big fan of his.  He asked where I lived and how long I’ve lived in California.  Just like Penalosa, Manny was very genuine.

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The Humble Pac-Man!

As we were talking, he took one of my pictures and signed it.  I didn’t even ask.  Manny really appreciated his fans. We kept on talking, but the organizer had to kick me out because more people were waiting.

“I just want to say good luck on your fight against Hatton”.

“Thank you” – replies Manny

I shook Manny’s hand and bounced.  We took several pictures of the gym and called it a day.

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Ring inside the Wildcard Gym

In the end, we got 2 pictures signed. We also took pictures with Gerry Penalosa, Freddie Roach, and Manny Pacquiao.  Unlike some celebrities, Manny still remembers where he came from, and the fans that helped put him on the map.  Thanks to Manny, Freddie and Gerry for taking their time and talking to their fans!

You can see more pictures from the event in the photo gallery.

 Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao
Manny’s autograph!

pixel Meeting Boxing Great, Manny Pacquiao

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