Vote for Spartacus

In Spartacus by Barry Strauss2 Comments

He’s running for office. Of all the details in various media reports about boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao, that’s the one that strikes me. Pacquiao will face Ricky Hatton in a sold-out fight in Las Vegas on Saturday. The bout is highly touted, and for good reason, since Hatton holds a world title (140-pounds) and Pacquiao is often thought to be the best boxer in the business. Neither man is a heavyweight but both generate heat. Pacquiao (“the Pac Man”) is a fit lefty with speed and power; Hatton (“the Hit Man”) is strong and aggressive. The guaranteed purse is $12 million per fighter.

I’m putting my money on Pacquiao’s political ambitions. He plans to run for Congress in his native Philippines. His national hero status, some say, makes him more popular there than the president. He has even met Imelda Marcus.

The Pac Man’s aim outside the ring is a reminder of the age-old tie between sports and politics. Combat sports probably offer the most cachet: the mere fact of being a heavyweight gladiator, for instance, gave Spartacus credibility. But any sports success will rub off on an office-seeker. In ancient Athens, for instance, the rogue politician Alcibiades climbed his record of sponsoring chariot-race winners at the Olympics all the way to a top military command. Next to that, American presidential golfers and basketball players seem low-key.

If Spartacus were running for Congress today, would his campaign slogan be “He’ll clean house the way he cleaned up in the arena”? Or maybe, “Now that’s what I call a left hook”?

Barry StraussVote for Spartacus


  1. Sean S.

    Manny Pacquiao is truly the peoples’ champ (at least in the Philippines). I’ve followed his career for a few years now and I figured upon his retirement from boxing he would be a political figure in some capacity in his native country.

    What happens when a well intentioned sports hero begins to delve the depths of the seedy political world of a very poor nation? What happens when the people realize that he can’t just give a left cross/uppercut combo to knockout complex problems?

    Spartacus’s success inside the arena translated to his many successes as a rebel, until his luck ran out (or the legions caught up with him). I can only hope that Many Pacquiao’s achievements will follow him into politics, but how long will that last? What do you think?

    Sean S.
    (P.S. I hope he beats Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the fall)

  2. admin

    @Sean S.
    You’ve hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I fear that Pacquiao will miss the ring when he sits in the legislature – or the president’s mansion. Very few people can translate success from one sphere to another. In ancient Rome, for example, Pompey found it easier to win on the battlefield than in the Forum. Caesar balanced success in both arenas until the Ides of March, when the politicos finally caught up with him.

    But I hope that Manny proves me wrong. He’s certainly a terrific boxer.

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