Manny Pacquiao has hand picked his first and only student. The boxer turned politician has decided to hand the opportunity to American influencer Vladimir Grand.
Pacquiao cruised through that without ever really breaking sweat. He does not appear to have ever worked as a boxing trainer before despite having children of his own who compete in the sport.
But Pacquiao has decided to try his hand at training and has announced that Vladimir Grand is his chosen student:
Grand does not appear to have any previous competitive experience of boxing. But what the American actor, who is based in the Philippines, does have is an enormous online following.
He has 1.9 million followers on Instagram and 17.1mn on Tik Tok. By contrast Pacquiao does not currently have a presence on the latter platform so perhaps he is hoping that Grand will help him to connect with a slightly younger audience.
But the news that Pacquiao has chosen a social media influence rather than an aspiring boxer to be his protege has not been well received everywhere.
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Out of touch
Pacquiao grew up in poverty but boxing had made him a multimillionaire. His family was so poor that his father supposedly killed and ate his pet dog when he was a child.
Many of the comments under the Instagram post question why Pacquiao would choose a wealthy, successful American actor to be his student when there are thousands of aspiring Filipino boxer who would love to work with the multiple time world champion. One asks the senator,
I love you Manny always have but question why not choose somebody who comes from the slums like yourself when you were a child? Or have you lost touch with your roots?
Vladimir Grand is already 27 so it is relatively late in life for him to embark upon a career in boxing. But we are in the era of celebrity fights where anyone with a sizeable online following can secure a big money matchup.
So there is sure to be plenty of interest in the American’s boxing debut. But aspiring young fighters in the Philippines will wonder why they have been overlooked by Pacquiao and are entitled to question whether he really has lost touch with his roots.