By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)
If you’re like most people, you are probably fed up by increasingly ridiculous and infuriating Ryan Lochte story. To that end, let’s take a moment to spotlight an Olympic swimmer who is far more deserving of our attention instead.
Most American Twitter users were first introduced Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua in the aftermath of that absolutely horrifying Daily Beast piece in which a reporter doxxed several closeted Olympians.
The openly gay Fonua’s ensuing tweetstorm about the lives of gay athletes was both eloquent and enlightening.
Once Ring Magazine‘s pound-for-pound top fighter, Manny Pacquiao is expected to formally announce his retirement from the sport of boxing with his final fight tentatively scheduled for next April. Pacquiao (also known as “Pacman” by the sport’s afficionados) is a boxing legend, and the only fighter in history to have won a world championship belt in 8 weight classes.
Pacquiao has served as an inspiration to citizens of his native Phillipines, as well as an icon for AAPI sports fans in the United States and around the world. Once lauded as standing at the pinnacle of the sport, Pacquiao was heralded as a defiance of the stereotypes that plague Asian and AAPI men. Pacquiao’s ring personality is the very antithesis of those stereotypes: he is brash, aggressive, unpredictable and ferocious, but not always the smartest fighter. Cementing his status as a beloved Filipino icon, Pacquiao has pursued activities focused on political and economic uplift for Filipino people: he is a movie star, a musician, philanthropist and member of the Phillipines’ House of Representatives.
But, perhaps the most exciting aspect of Pacquiao’s career has been the consequences of his team-up with fight promoter Bob Arum. For decades, boxing had progressed by simply ignoring the economies of countries making up nearly half the world. The committed collaboration between Pacquiao and Arum to open the Asian market to the sport of boxing has single-handedly created the Pacific’s now busy boxing hub of Macau, China. In recent years, for example, Pacquiao has eschewed fighting in America and has used his boxing fame and status at the top of the sport to force opponents to fight him in Macau (and to accompany him on lengthy Asian promotional tours preceding the fight), which has brought much-needed international revenue to struggling Pacific economies and has focused greater attention in the sport on Asian fighters. These successful efforts have ushered in the new era of the Asian and Asian American boxer, which includes names such as Zou Shimeng, mixed race Korean-Kazahkstani Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin, and the now-retired Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire.
Last year, I reviewed a truly outstanding documentary called “9-Man” by filmmaker and friend of this blog, Ursula Liang. “9-Man” is an incredible exploration of the virtually unknown volleyball variant known as 9-Man, which has its roots in Toisan and which was popularized among Chinese Americans in the early twentieth century as a reaction to life in a forced bachelor society. 9-Man continues to be a streetball tradition in the Chinese American community, yet this fascinating and frenetic sport remained largely overlooked until Liang’s film. In my review last year, I described Liang’s documentary as complex and thought-provoking, and a vehicle for exploring many aspects of Asian American masculine identity today.
“9-Man” has won a bunch of awards during its time in the film festival circuit, including the Directors’ Choice award at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Boston Asian American Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award the Austin Asian American Film Festival. In my review, I wrote:
To be honest, I actually loved this documentary so much I viewed it twice (in two different cities!) during its film festival tours: once to write my review at BAAFF, and again to introduce some friends to it when it was showing in New York City. Everyone who has seen it has loved this film, and many have asked when and how it will be available to a broader audience.
This fight has been nearly a decade in the making. On May 2nd, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. will square off against Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao to determine once and for all which fighter is boxing’s undisputed champion.
For the casual boxing fans among you, this post will break down Saturday’s epic war: what’s happening, why it matters, and — of course — who I think is going to win.
What more does the fight of the century need? An epic, 80’s style power ballad sung in Tagalog by a nation’s hero, of course.
Sometime last month, Manny Pacquiao recorded this song — “Lalaban Ako Para Sa Filipino” / “I Will Fight For The Filipinos” — and the official music video was uploaded to YouTube just over ten days ago.