In addition to speculation about whether or not Floyd Mayweather will agree to a fight in May, Manny Pacquiao is out promoting a new documentary film about his life entitled "Manny." However, he claimed that his identity was more than just being an actor, a professional basketball player and the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
According to Billy Hallowell of TheBlaze, Pacquiao said that his Christian faith mattered most to his identity. He described the experience in dramatic detail that led him to convert from Catholicism to a "born-again Christian."
"I heard the voice of God and I saw two angels," Pacquiao said. "When I heard the voice of God I felt like I died. ... I was in the middle of the forest and I was kneeling and praying with my face on the ground and then I saw a light, a very white light and I heard the voice."
Pacquiao added that a "conviction from the Holy Spirit" inevitably led him to discover Jesus. According to Hallowell, he claimed to have heard the "voice of God."
"I'm really thankful that God has given me this kind of a heart," Pacquiao said.
In an article published back in October for The Guardian, Kevin Mitchell wrote on the humility of Pacquiao's faith. While Pacquiao claimed that God spoke to him personally, Mitchell noted that he never claimed God was on his side, as other boxers have previously done, and had no regrets leaving his former life that once involved womanizing and gambling.
"He once was an all-night hound dog, taking his pleasure where he pleased, ignoring all advice to respect the sanctity of his marriage vows and determined to squeeze as much fun from life as was available to someone who was born into grinding poverty," Mitchell wrote in regards to Pacquiao. "Those were his hardcore inclinations until only a few years ago."
Pacquiao explained the tenets of his Christian faith to The Guardian.
"I'm happy because I found the right way, salvation, born again. We are required to be born again, all of us," Pacquiao said. "Christ said unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it's very important to me. Jesus Christ said: 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus."
TheBlaze reported that Pacquiao had a heartfelt message for those who might not share his devotion to Christ.
"I just want to let them know that - all over the world - that there is only one way of salvation, only through Jesus Christ," he said. "They have to know about Jesus and believe. If they don't believe, they don't have salvation, because the Lord Jesus is the only way of salvation."
In addition to sharing his faith and reading his Bible on a regular basis, Hallowell reported that Pacquiao is trying to put into practice what he preaches. The boxer recently launched a project back in the Philippines to build a church and community center.
"We are starting building the church and also helping the people, giving them shelter," he said, noting that the church will help the community discover and follow God.
In addition to being a boxer, Pacquiao is also an elected representative for the Sarangani province in the Philippine Congress. Pacquiao's boxing coach, Freddie Roach, commented to The Guardian that not everyone was happy with the boxer's conversion to evangelical Christianity, noting it could potentially hurt his political career too.
"It's more vital to him now than ever before," Roach said. "He was born a Catholic, now he's a born-again Christian. His mother [Dionesia] hates it. She's always trying to force the Rosary on him. The only worry about it is that maybe it could hurt his political career, because 90 percent of the Philippines is Catholic and he's a born-again Christian."
Despite Roach's concern, Pacquiao sees his political position as an opportunity and blessing presented by God. According to TheBlaze, he wants to focus on what truly matters, which include cutting through corruption and helping others in need.
"I want to serve people honestly and help them. The government has money, has power to help people but the problem is a lot of public officials figure that they have their own agenda," Pacquiao said. "My goal is to serve with the fear of the Lord and [follow him]."
Pacquiao also thought God had a purpose for his life both in the boxing and political worlds.
"The Lord has blessed me [with] everything I have ... [my] political career and serving the Lord and being a boxer - and I believe God has a purpose," he said. "It is behind my expectation and imagination. I think it's time to proclaim his name, not mine."
Pacquiao added that "whatever God plans will be done."
"I don't want to follow my ways," Pacquiao quipped. "I want to follow God's ways."
"Manny" will premiere on demand and in U.S. theaters on Jan. 23. The documentary, narrated by Liam Neeson, looks at his life behind the scenes, including how the boxer overcame childhood poverty and became an international superstar sensation.