By Aquiles Z. Zonio
A TRUE leader will rise up to the occasion when confronted with great challenge.
Prior to the synchronized local and national elections in May, many critics and cynics treated with disdain Manny Pacquiao’s decision to join the long list of senatorial wannabes.
Their perception and impression was, Pacquiao lacks dedication and mental prowess necessary in efficiently carrying out his duties. Pacquiao, however, remained impervious.
After the counting of the last ballot, the Filipino boxing idol landed on the 7th spot out of the 12 winning senatorial aspirants despite his failure to go around the country to campaign for his candidacy.
Actually, he’s no stranger to such kind of situation or predicament.
Way back when he was still a struggling boxer, many doubted his ability to become a champion. He was ridiculed and belittled.
He took the challenge and went on to carve a niche in the annals of prizefighting.
Michael Koncz may be the most misunderstood, if not the most hated, figure inside Team Pacquiao.
What many people failed to figure out is that Koncz is doing his best to protect the interest of the Filipino boxing legend.
Koncz has been pilloried and called lots of nasty names – bully, tactless, evil and all – by people for his unyielding and sometimes hostile nay repulsive character.
But, he is a necessary “evil” in Team Pacquiao to ward off devious and dubious characters preying on the kindheartedness of the world’s eight-division boxing champion.
Pacquiao would always say yes. Not Koncz who dares say no – whenever and wherever appropriate to say so – regardless of who you are.
The Filipino sports icon, as much as possible, avoids offending the sensibilities of a friend, kin or anybody, especially from the poorest of the poor, seeking financial help.
“I understand and I can empathize with those in need because I’d been there myself. I could just imagine the feeling of anguish, the sense of despair when one needs something and nobody is there to help,” said Pacquiao reminiscing difficult times in his life.
“I went around the small roadside restaurants near our place offering even to wash the dishes just to get free meals for myself and my family. I was not ashamed to do menial works in exchange for something. We were taught by our mother not to steal, much more, beg for money or food,” Pacquiao revealed.
The Filipino boxing hero claimed that Mommy Dionisia inculcated in them the utmost value of hard work and self-respect.
According to Koncz, this is so far the hardest training camp for Pacquiao.
But, Koncz added, he’s very surprised and so happy that despite the challenges and complications they encountered in the training camp, Pacquiao’s level of motivation and dedication remains high.
“This training camp is very difficult because Manny Pacquiao has to wake up early in the morning to jog. After that, he has to go to the Senate to fulfill his legislative duties then train at the gym late in the afternoon,” Koncz bared.
Right now, Koncz said, Pacquiao is about 70 or 80 percent ready for the fight.
He said they have sent emails to some senators, inviting them to watch live the Nov. 5Pacquiao-Vargas fight.
“So far, we have not yet received any reply,” Koncz said.
The fight will happen during the break in the Senate session. Senate will be on recess from October 20 to Nov. 7.
Train hard, fight easy…
Work ethic sets Pacquiao apart from other prizefighters.
“What makes Manny so unique is his work ethic. He overcomes age and the tests of time guided by the principle, ‘Train hard, fight easy.’ These are not just words, he does it. I’ve never seen any boxer so motivated and dedicated to his craft as Manny,” stated Koncz.
He disclosed that for the last five or six years, Pacquiao’s training camp has turned for the better.
“He’s in the mode to train. During the training he has become more relax and carefree. And it turns out so good for him,” Koncz claimed.
Proved his critics wrong…
Koncz admitted that he had doubts when Pacquiao was still a congressman. That practically changed with what Pacquiao has been doing in the Senate,
Koncz uttered he’s so impressed that Pacquiao is putting lots of efforts and time doing his Senate works.
“If he sustains this kind of performance, no doubt, he would go a long way as a servant-leader,” Koncz said.
When asked how did Pacquiao fare as senator, Koncz stressed “He exceeded my expectation. I’m very proud of him and his achievements and I feel so honored to be associated with him.”
He added “I never expect him to do what he has done in a short period of time that he’s been in the Senate. I never expect him to have that level of motivation and dedication in his work as senator. I feel, he’s gonna make a tremendous senator and if ever he decides to go further he’s capable of doing things that would benefit his country.
Piece of advice…
Koncz described Pacquiao as a loving and responsible family man.
“You know, it’s been a long 11 years. So, I’ve been there through the good and the bad. But I’m sure of one thing. Manny has never wavered when it comes to loving his wife and children,” he said.
Even in bad times or in good times, Pacquiao, he said, has never lost sight of how important his wife and kids are to him.
Asked about a piece of advice for his good friend, he said “You know, at times his schedule does not permit him to be with his family. But I constantly reminding him not to do the same mistake I did by staying away from my family.”
But he disclosed that over the years and especially during the last couple of years, Pacquiao has been devoting a lot more of his time and attention to his wife and children.
For him, describing Pacquiao as friend is so difficult.
“The truth of the matter is, he saved my life literally and I appreciate it very much. I can’t describe Manny as a friend because words are not enough to give the true meaning of the bond and friendship that we have. I will never find another friend like him.”
Chasing for history & legacy…
Koncz advised Pacquiao to stay retired and enjoy spending time with his family.
“I had a long conversation with Manny. I tried to talk against his plan to fight again. I am concerned that with all his obligations as a senator and as a family man, he has no more adequate time to prepare or train,” he said.
He explained that if Pacquiao is not 100 percent in shape, he’d run the risk of sustaining or getting injuries.
He doesn’t want this thing to happen to Pacquiao. They spoke over the phone for more than an hour and the Filipino ring legend was able to convince him.
“You know, I come to realize that being an athlete is like being a drug addict. He missed the rigors of training at the gym, the fans cheering on and everything. It’s very very hard to just walk away from that,” Koncz said.
Then when the training camp started, Koncz said, he doesn’t see any signs his boss is slowing down.
“His level of motivation in the gym remains the same and I don’t see any signs of his power diminishing,” he said.
He explained that Pacquiao’s decision to come out of retirement has nothing to do with his finances.
“The strong motivation behind was his burning passion for the sport, his strong desire to entertain the fans and the kind of honor or abiding legacy he can bequeath to his country and people,” Koncz said.
Accordingly, this is an historic fight. If Pacquiao succeeds in dethroning the current champion, it will not only add more feathers to his cap.
He will be the first ever boxer-senator to win a world boxing crown.
Koncz said “No other man on earth has ever achieved that.”