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Manny Pacquiao:  What Innovators Learn from One of the Greatest Boxers in History

By Shlomo Maital




 Pacquiao, in the Philippine Legislature


 Manny Pacquiao, Philippine fighter,  is arguably the greatest boxer in history.  His achievements?  He is an eight-division world champion, the first boxer in history to win ten world titles, the first to win in eight weight divisions, and the first to win the championship in four different weight classes.

 I believe the wins in four weight classes are astounding. While gaining weight, Pacquiao somehow managed to maintain his speed and quickness.  How? He reinvented how fighters box.  Here is what boxing writer Greg Bishop says: *

    Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said, ‘speed is the greatest asset [for a boxer] (and for an innovator) in the world’. [In the past] boxers mostly engaged straight on. [But Pacquiao created angles].  If Pacquiao shifted left, outside the right foot of his opponents, their natural instinct was to follow –into his left hand!  If they chose not to engage, they had one option, to back away.  Pacquiao improves his position with each angle created and makes it more difficult to counterpunch.

   Pacquiao has extremely quick feet, feet that could qualify him for Riverdance.  His style is “part performance art, part technical wizardry, unique to Pacquiao”. 

   Remember that innovation is intelligently breaking the rules.  The unwritten assumption for boxes is that you square off and meet the opponent directly.  Why?  Why not step aside, create an angle, dance, do the surprising and unexpected, fight in ways opponents are unaccustomed?  Pacquiao says his model is martial arts expert Bruce Lee, whose movies he watched endlessly as a child. 

   Pacquiao is now an elected official.  But he continues to fight.  He inspires his countrymen, and though many innovators are not fond of boxing, they can learn much from him.

  • Channeling his inner Bruce Lee,  Greg Bishop, NYT Global Edition, May 3, 2011, p. 15

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2011
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