Boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao, has been defeated at the Philippines presidential poll, where he came third position.
His campaign for the top position began with a livestream video of himself travelling through Manila’s morning traffic in a coach marked with “Man of Destiny”, according to AFP.
Despite admitting to using crystal meth and marijuana as a teenager, his promise to imprison corrupt politicians and prosecute drug users failed to land a knockout blow, and he was defeated by a large majority in Monday’s election.
Pacquiao received less than four million votes, or 6.8% of all ballots cast, according to preliminary results.
He finished a distant third behind poll winner Ferdinand Marcos Junior and runner-up Leni Robredo, who received more than half of the votes.
Pacquiao had practically little chance of winning the race, according to pre-election polls.
But to the very last moment, the devout evangelical Christian convert had extolled his chances of success.
“I believe there are more poor people than rich ones,” Pacquiao told reporters on Monday as he voted in his southern home province of Sarangani.
“We want to assure them that the majority of the poor will unite to show the rich that there are more people suffering in poverty in this country,” said Pacquiao, who resides in an enclave filled with billionaires and foreign ambassadors in Manila.
Pacquiao’s unsuccessful bid for the country’s presidency cost him more than just money and pride; he also had to drop out of a second term in the celebrity-studded Senate, where he had a good chance of winning.
Pacquiao, a former lawmaker, said in November that if he loses the presidential race, he will not return to sports. AFP
“I’m already turning 43 years old, so it’s enough for me, I’m done,” said the father of five.
Instead, Pacquiao plans to produce fruit on a 20-hectare (49-acre) farm in Sarangani.
Pacquiao’s climb from a destitute street boy to one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time has earned him widespread admiration across the archipelago.
As a politician and fervent Christian, though, he has sparked debate.
Pacquiao was a vocal supporter of Duterte’s murderous drug campaign and call for the death sentence to be reinstated.
His reputation was harmed by his own admission of prior drug use, and homophobic remarks cost him a lucrative sponsorship arrangement with Nike.
Critics have accused Pacquiao of lacking intelligence and hardly attending sessions in Congress and the Senate, raising doubts about his competence to lead the 110 million-strong country.
Last year, he squandered vital political capital in a public confrontation with Duterte that resulted in a serious divide among their political party.
Pacquiao’s retirement from boxing was announced in September 2021, just days before announcing his presidential bid.
When asked when Pacquiao would admit defeat, a spokeswoman claimed the star was “resting” after the months-long political campaign and voting process.
“Senator Pacquiao conveys his heartfelt thanks to the journalists and wishes you will continue to enjoy the freedom of expression,” he said.