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Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao to speak at Oxford and Cambridge as Filipino boxing idol returns to school

  • Eight-time world champion will address students at famous universities next week
  • Muhammad Ali famously made commencement speech at Harvard in 1975
PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 11:54am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 12:02pm

More than 40 years after his idol, Muhammad Ali, took to the stage at Harvard, Filipino idol Manny Pacquiao will follow the same path by speaking at Oxford and Cambridge universities next week.

But whether Pacquiao will ever match Ali’s famous speech at Harvard in 1975 when the “Greatest” was the most recognisable person on the planet remains to be seen.

Pacquiao has accepted an invitation to return to school and speak on campus at the Oxford Union and Cambridge Union on November 5 and 6 respectively.

“To be invited to these beacons of higher learning to speak to their students is indeed a tremendous honour,” said Pacquiao. “I treasure moments like these where I can share my story and my culture, as well as exchange ideas, with the next generation of leaders.”

It’s the first time the eight-division world champion will speak at the renowned universities with the Oxford Union, founded in 1823, known to be the most prestigious student society in the world.

The Oxford Union has hosted world leaders in every field, including Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Roger Bannister, and former US presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, to name a few.

Founded in 1815, the Cambridge Union is steeped in history too, being the oldest debating and free speech society in the world, and the largest student society in the University of Cambridge.

It has also hosted an impressive list of world leaders in every field, including Margaret Thatcher, Theodore Roosevelt, Stephen Hawking, Buzz Aldrin, Antonin Scalia, Ian McKellen, and Sebastian Coe.

Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs), who hails from Sarangani Province in the Philippines, is the only sitting congressman and senator to win a world title.

A three-time Fighter of the Year and the Boxing Writers Association of America’s reigning Fighter of the Decade, Pacquiao regained the welterweight title for a fourth time on July 15 by knocking out defending WBA world champion Lucas Matthyssee, of Argentina.

The fight took place at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Philippine President Rodrigo Duerte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad were there, marking the first time two heads of state attended a championship-boxing event.

The 39-year-old Filipino is reportedly in negotiations to fight unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jnr in a rematch after losing the first fight by unanimous decision.

Pacquiao has a hard act to follow as he tries to emulate the excitement and frenzy that saw Ali light up Harvard in 1975 when the then heavyweight champion accepted an invitation to make a commencement speech to graduating students.

“I am really humbled and I’m thankful to be here, it’s such a high seat of learning and I’m just a boxer, when most boxers can’t even talk. You couldn’t invite Joe Frazier, George Foreman,” Ali told a capacity crowd to laughter.