FOLLOWING international outrage over legendary Filipino boxer Manny Pacquaio’s comments on homosexuals, Nike has terminated its sponsorship deal with the former world champion and future hall of famer. The 37-year-old, who is running for a senate seat in the Philippines, told a local TV station that people in same-sex relationships are “worse than animals”.
A statement from the giant sports conglomerate, released on February 17, read “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
Pacquiao is a hero in his home country, having torn up the history books in his unstoppable rise through the weight classes in the 2000’s. He won world titles in a record eight weight classes, having made his professional debut as a 4 foot 11, 7 stone, 16-year-old from the streets of Manila. Following his success, and some well documented debauchery, he converted to evangelical Christianity and has since launched a political campaign focused on both his humble beginnings and his strong faith.
His evangelism has raised eyebrows in the traditionally Catholic country and his comments were roundly condemned by many key cultural figures. Arguing that “It’s common sense,” he said “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
The remarks, which came after his failed opposition to a new law promising free condoms to the poor and needy, complement the furore over current world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s similar statements.