Pacquiao stands firm on anti-gay remarks

MANILA • Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao yesterday refused to back down over gay slurs that have tarnished his reputation and cost him millions in sponsorship deals, insisting God is on his side.

The eight-division world champion smiled and joked through a short training session in his home town of General Santos just after dawn, then told reporters he had no intention of bowing to his critics.

"What I am saying is right. I mean I am just stating the truth, what the Bible says," he said.

Pacquiao, who converted from Catholicism to an evangelical Protestant faith late in his boxing career, created a global controversy this week when he described homosexuals as worse than animals.

He issued an apology on social media after the controversy broke.

STATING THE 'FACTS'

What I did wrong was just comparing the people to animals, but you know what I am telling is the truth.

'' MANNY PACQUIAO, insisting that his views are not incorrect.

But Nike, his major global sponsor, immediately cancelled its endorsement deal with him, describing his comments as "abhorrent".

Pacquiao, who intends to retire after his April 9 fight against American Timothy Bradley to pursue a career in politics, insisted that his apology was qualified.

"What I did wrong was just comparing the people to animals, but you know what I am telling is the truth," he said. "I mean I am just telling what the Bible says. We believe God and then we should honour the word of God."

Pacquiao said the controversy had not affected his training or dampened his morale.

"I'm happy. I'm always happy because God is with me," he said.

One of his media handlers told reporters at the training session yesterday that they were not allowed to ask him any questions regarding the issue. However, Pacquiao appeared eager to show he remained firm in his religious convictions, and happily answered them.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Pacquiao stands firm on anti-gay remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe