He's the only boxer alive who could pull this off and in no small part because of status as a Congressman from the Philippines, but boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao will meet with President Barack Obama tomorrow in Washington, DC. Think about that for a moment and try to envision anyone in MMA - Dana White or any fighter - who would be granted such a distinction. Don't bother. There's isn't one.
Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee will meet U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on February 15 at the White House, reports PhilStar.com. Pacquiao will be the first Filipino boxer to enter the White House in Washington, D.C., according to PEP.ph.
The Sarangani congressman will ask Obama for help for his constituents in the province, according to PhilStar.com. Pacquaio told PEP.ph, "Siyempre, excited tayo dahil matagal ko ng pangarap na makaharap at makausap si US President Obama. Isa ito sa hindi ko malilimutan na parte ng buhay ko dahil malaki ang paghanga ko sa kanya." ("Of course we're excited. I've long dreamed of meeting U.S. President Obama. I will never forget this because I admire him very much.")
Meanwhile, his wife Jinkee told PEP.ph, "Hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko or masasabi ko kapag nandoon na kami. Baka matulala na lang ako kapag nasa harapan namin sila (laughs)." ("I don't know what to say or do once we meet them. I might get star struck.")
To be clear, Pacquiao is probably the one combat sports athlete who could achieve such a distinction. Floyd Mayweather may be his equal in popularity, but his criminal history makes it impossible for President Obama to ever be seen in the same room with him. And, as aforementioned, Pacquiao is a legitimate member of a governing body from a country with friendly ties to the United States. In other words, Pacquiao isn't getting this visit solely because he walloped Antonio Margarito in Dallas.
But he isn't getting this visit solely because he's a small-time Congressman from the Philippines either. It's worth noting just how far beyond his combat sports contemporaries Manny Pacquiao has soared. He leveraged his nearly peerless run in boxing to elevate his status through other endeavors, which, in turn, re-elevate his status as an athlete. By contrast, Mayweather, Jr. is also elevating his status with his behavior outside the ring, but he's doing it by engaging in allegedly criminal misconduct. Quite the divergent paths these two are taking.
I'll be attending Pacquiao's meeting with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada tomorrow on Capitol Hill. I'll report back here tomorrow with what I saw.