Leon Gast gave us one of the greatest sports documentaries ever with When We Were Kings which chronicled the heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Now he returns to the ring with his latest documentary Manny which he co-directed with Ryan Moore, and it looks at the life of Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao. Manny shows us the boxer’s poverty stricken childhood and how he ended up escaping it through his love and dedication to boxing, and to say he packs a mighty punch is a serious understatement. We also get to see his other accomplishments in politics, religion and even in singing (seriously, he has a decent singing voice). From start to finish, we come to see why he is a hero and a figure of hope to the people of the Philippines.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Manny Pacquiao on the phone about Manny. For a guy who looks to be on top of the world, he sounded very humble and thankful for what he has been given throughout his life. In addition, there does look to be some hope still for the long-promised fight between him and Floyd Mayweather.
PLEASE NOTE: This interview was conducted before the Pacquiao/Mayweather was finally announced as officially happening.
We really get to see a side of you that many people haven’t seen before. With this documentary, did you want it to show anything that other sports or boxing documentaries haven’t in the past?
Manny Pacquiao: This is a collection of my life stories, and also I hope it will inspire people.
This documentary was directed by Leon Gast and Ryan Moore. Did they come to you with the idea of doing this documentary?
Manny Pacquiao: Yeah. Ryan Moore came to me and said that he was directing the movie. I said good, I like it.
What’s fascinating is watching how you went from living in poverty to becoming one of most famous people in the world, and it shows that being famous is a juggling act. How do you manage or handle fame these days?
Manny Pacquiao: I manage my fame now by staying humble and make no big changes in my attitude.
What surprised you most in the process of making this documentary?
Manny Pacquiao: What surprised me was that there were a lot of people helping me, especially Liam Neeson who narrated this movie for which I’m so thankful. And the other actors were really supportive of this movie like Mark Wahlberg.
Is it ever hard for you to watch yourself in this documentary?
Manny Pacquiao: No. It’s been nice. I’m happy and I enjoy watching it over and over.
The documentary starts with you getting knocked out which was a gutsy way of beginning it. Was that your decision or the filmmakers’ decision to start with that?
Manny Pacquaio: They made that decision. I agreed and was happy for that because when you’re that down when you’re in that position, there is still hope that tomorrow we can rise again.
We also learned that when you were fighting, the military in your country stopped fighting and went to the TV to watch you. How do you feel about that?
Manny Pacquaio: I’m excited and happy for giving honor to my country and to the people.
What is your favorite boxing movie?
Manny Pacquaio: Rocky.
Was there any part of your life that you were nervous about putting in this documentary?
Manny Pacquaio: No.
How did you become acquainted with Mark Wahlberg?
Manny Pacquaio: I know him from a long time ago and he’s been my friend. He’s a very nice guy.
We see you into the world of politics in this documentary. For you what is the tougher arena, boxing or politics?
Manny Pacquaio: Boxing and politics are different, and I love doing politics and serving people.
I’ve got to ask you about Floyd Mayweather whom you may or may not fight. Many have accused him of ducking out of a boxing match with you. Will that fight ever happen?
Manny Pacquaio: My promoter and I have already agreed over his terms and his conditions. Whatever he wanted we have already agreed to. We are just waiting on the signed contract from them.
What was it like going from someone living in utter poverty to becoming a very well-known person in society? Was it an easy transition for you or was it more challenging than you expected?
Manny Pacquaio: I have to adjust. I have to be nice to all the people. Because of the people I have become a famous person. My responsibility is to fulfill my responsibility as a famous person.
At one point we see your days as being incredibly busy to where we wonder if you get any sleep. Some of even said that you barely had time to sleep with all that you had to do. How did you manage get sleep during your most hectic of times?
Manny Pacquaio: I have time to sleep and I have time for my family. I have time for everything.
What’s up next for you?
Manny Pacquaio: I’m just waiting for the signed contract from Mayweather and his team.
Thanks to Manny Pacquaio for taking the time to talk with me.