The Bible according to Tim, Bubba and MannyBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO—Tim Tebow and his football and faith. Bubba Watson and his golf and godliness.
And now comes Manny Pacquiao and his renewed comradeship with Christ.
Talk about Christian sports star power—this high-octane evangelical trinity is poised to zoom into overdrive.
Makati City-born Tebow, quarterback of the NFL’s New York Jets leads this blessed brotherhood out to save the world from doom.
Tebow, the most fervently spiritual of pro athletes, believes that every gridiron in America is God’s little acre ripe for “Tebowing”—kneeling in prayer after each victory or defeat. A known philanthropist, Tebow teams up with charitable and faith-based organizations to help children of indigent families in less developed nations, including the Philippines.
Watson, the reigning US Masters golf champion considers the fairway as a forum for Jesus to reach as many people as possible through him. Bubba bats for unity among the races. A regular on the PGA Tour’s weekly Bible study during a tournament, Watson believes that everyone answers to one true master.
Punched to his senses by past pitfalls, Pacquiao is boxing’s born-again Catholic. From kneeling in prayer before and after trading punches with a ring opponent—he has metamorphosed into a more serious spreader of the Word.
The papers said Manny admitted in recent weeks that he has abandoned his adulterous ways, given up drinking and late-night gambling in favor of his faith. The Los Angeles Times has reported that according to his promoter Bob Arum, “Pacquiao has required advances on fight purses as great as $4 million before his last two bouts to help pay off his gambling debts… estimated at $1 million to $2 million annually.”
The Sarangani legislator has turned to religion to save his marriage and prevent his life from spinning out of control. When in Hollywood, the eight division champ’s La Palazzo apartment is his pulpit as he reads the Bible and talks about his evolution as a believer to visitors, media types and his usual coterie of supporters and hangers-on.
His bolder embrace of Catholicism has made Manny a changed man, but what is the drawback? His handlers are not saying, but after Pacquiao’s shocking split decision defeat to Timothy Bradley, some think he has lost his focus and killer instinct and has become soft on his opponents.
The last boxing superstar to experience a religious epiphany was George Foreman after he lost to Jimmy Young in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1977.
After the bout selected by Ring Magazine as the Fight of the Year of that era, Foreman abandoned boxing for 10 years. He sticks to his story that while in the locker room after that fight, he had died and gone in a dark place, until ultimately rescued by unseen hands.
Shortly after that Foreman became a Christian minister.
Speaking of losses, Foreman recalls in his memoir “God In My Corner” that his defeat to Muhammad Ali in the classic “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire in 1974 was one of the turning points in his life.
Foreman is an entrepreneur who has made big bucks touting his fat-reducing grill on television.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is gazing heavenward for important life decisions. He hasn’t offered a clue that he is walking away from boxing.
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(PASSINGS: I never had the pleasure of working with Zean Macamay, a veteran scribe who passed away on Monday at age 47. But being an alum of the Journal group from way back, Zean was part of my extended sports family. Gus Villanueva, Journal Group editor-in-chief, lost a respected reporter. The sports writing community lost a giant of a man.)
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