Multi-division world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has announced his retirement from what he called the ‘greatest sport in the world’ on Wednesday, for a surprising reason. The boxing icon has decided to focus on running for the Philippines presidency, which will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of his career.

A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao)

It’s over. Reuters is reporting that the 42-year-old’s final fight was a defeat by Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas last month. Pacquiao sealed 62 wins, eight losses, and two draws during his 26-year career. Of those 62 wins, 39 were by knockout and 23 by decision. He won 12 world titles and is the only fighter in history to win titles in eight different weight classes.

In a video posted on social media, Pacquiao described retiring as the “hardest decision” of his life, adding boxing had given him “the chance to fight my way out of poverty” and “the courage to change more lives”.

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Pacquiao’s rags to riches story is one for the record books. Pacquiao was born in 1978 in Kibawe in the southern province of Bukidnon. He is one of six siblings raised in a single-parent family and lived in a shack. He quit school at 10.

He was introduced by a relative to boxing in General Santos City when he was 12. He took part in street fights where the winner received 100 pesos ($1.97) and the loser, 50 pesos. “I heard that when you fight, even when you lose, you have money,” according to SuperSport.

The boxer left his impoverished home in the southern Philippines as a teenager and stowed away on a ship bound for Manila. He made his professional boxing debut as a junior flyweight in 1995 at the age of 16, fighting his way out of abject poverty to become one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

Pacquiao first tried his hand in politics over a decade ago. At first, he lost, but on his second attempt, he won a seat in Congress with a landslide victory, defeating a man who had held the seat for 30 years. He was re-elected three years later, despite having one of the worst attendance records in the house.

A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao)

In 2016, Pacquiao won a seat in the higher-profile Senate. He co-authored a bill to repeal a death penalty ban and steadfastly backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. His extremely conservative views have gotten him into trouble, with sports giant Nike terminating its contract with him over remarks he has made.

Pacquiao faces a tough fight for the presidency, with many saying it will be his toughest fight ever. “I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over,” said Pacquiao before hanging up his boxing gloves for the last time.

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Sources: Reuters, SuperSport

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