Recalling Pacquiao’s Vagabond days
HOLLYWOOD – Everyone knows about Manny Pacquiao’s humble beginnings and how he slept on a cardboard in the streets because he did not have a bed to sleep on. But very few people are aware that even when he was already a world champion and training and fighting in the United States, he was not far removed from that squalid past.
The USA Today tells the story of Pacquiao and the Vagabond Inn, a fleabag of a motel where the future Hall of Fame fighter used to stay when there wasn’t much money to go around, even for the two-time world champion that he was at the time (2001).
Until 2012 when Pacquiao last fought in the United States, the Vagabond was also the favorite dwelling for Filipino sportswriters covering his training at the Wild Card gym, which is next door to the Vagabond. Which is also the reason why Pacquiao chose to stay in what USA Today described as “a flea-bitten eyesore inhabited by mainly dubious clientele.’’
Still, Filipino sportswriters who have covered many of Pacquiao’s fights, including the Inquirer’s Roy Luarca, the Star’s Abac Cordero and the Bulletin’s Nick Giongco, have fond memories of the place. They waxed nostalgic when they discovered that the Vagabond is gone.
Fired razed the inn a year ago and in its place is a big hole from where a high-end apartment will soon rise. There’s not a place like it near the Wild Card gym.
The place, according to Giongco, was crawling with prostitutes and drug users. A police patrol car was always around to make an arrest or to break up a fight.
“My life was very different then,’’ Pacquiao was quoted by USA Today Sports. “That is where I would stay, and it wasn’t so bad. I don’t need so many things to be happy. It was very close to training.’’
Freddie Roach, owner of the Wild Card gym next door and Pacquiao’s trainer, said the place was horrible. Long after Manny had moved out of the place, the Filipino sportswriters continued to camp out at the Vagabond for the same reasons – it was cheap and only a few steps away from the Wild Card gym.
Manny has since moved out to the Palazzo apartments a couple of miles away and later to a more comfortable house just off the upscale Hancock Park in Hollywood. Soon it will be a mansion in Beverly Hills.
The Vagabond Inn may be miles away from Beverly Hills, “but I am still the same Manny,’’ he told USA Today.