The Meaning and Mythos of Manny Pacquiao

His power and smarts have helped revive a sport and made him a hero in the Philippines. But as he thinks about politics, can Manny Pacquiao be more than the best boxer in the world?

Dewey Nicks for TIME

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao is going through his throwing motion at Yankee Stadium. With easy deliberation, he shows off the form he says he perfected playing elementary school baseball in the dirt-poor southern Philippines before boxing took him over completely. His shoulder slips back, his torso pitches smoothly forward, left hand and arm torquing an imaginary ball into the depths of the air-conditioned players' cafeteria, where he is waiting to take the field for an announcement. The diamond stud in his ear catches the light.

The baseball pose has a balletic grace at odds with the savage power that the best...

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