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Thursday, February 25, 2010

"The more the MANNY-er": Examining Pacquiao's ever-growing entourage and current camp

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Filipino Sports Examiner | Dennis "dSource" Guillermo

Along with pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao's success and constantly growing fame and fortune came his entourage that also seemed to multiply as quickly as his riches.

Ain't no hate coming from this direction because truth be told, Pacquiao is a grown man and he can keep as big of an entourage he desires.

Truth be told, some of the people in his clique in LA do serve their own purpose but quite frankly, almost everyone in the media I have spoken to that's been around the group has had tales of leeches, scammers and nuisances.

One highly respected scribe told me in Vegas, "Honestly I just don't the the people he (Pacquiao) surrounds himself with. How can he expect to run for congressman and run a while region when he can't even run his own entourage properly. He lets all these crooks and swindlers hang on and it's just not a good situation".

Another respected personality in the media that has been around the LA Pacquiao crew also joked and talked about extending his patience and having to request Pacquiao's blessing to literally punch some of his annoying cling-ons for blocking face time and interviews when in fact this individual has known and been around Pacquiao in '96.

Perhaps another observer described it perfectly, "If you want to get to Pacquiao, you will have to go through layers upon layers of advisers, friends and hangers-on like an onion unless you're some kind of celebrity or politician.

Is this really what "The People's Champ has come down to?"

Actually, when I was in LA last week to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how things really went down when the cameras were out, I had a huge dose of the reality that goes on right now in the real PacLand in LA.

As far as Pacquiao is concerned, the guy is still approachable and unassuming although it's obvious that the countless days being a public figure has definitely grown old on him. He would still pose for photo ops for fans, smile and be courteous but you can just tell that he doesn't really enjoy doing it.

Case in point. Just as I told The Boxing Radio Show last weekend, I was a lucky observer around the Wild Card Gym and was even lucky enough to jog with the PacMan (well try to at least) in the challenging terrain of Griffith Park.

A few things stuck out in my mind.

First of course is Pacquiao's discipline, determination and work ethic. I'll tell you this much, if I literally tried to do half of what he did that morning, I'd be DEAD. And I'm not all that out of shape either. I play 3 hours of basketball on weekdays and hit the gym every other day, but Pacquiao's regimen is just MIND-BLOWING. Unbelievable. Pacquiao is definitely a machine. And I was told what I witnessed was something Pacquiao did since he started training in LA so all the haters and steroids accusers really have to do is jog a day with Manny and they'll find out themselves how this man has become the beast that he is today. (Watch-out for the video of my jog with Manny next week)

And that was just the morning. In the afternoon, Pacquiao was to train at the Wild Card Gym too from 1-5 pm. But this is where things get funky. Granted it was just a day in the life of the man, I think it's still worth telling for the fact that it happened.

As the crowd gathered outside the Wild Card Gym, the people's champ was running late- real late. It was 3 pm and there was still no sign of the PacMan. There was about 30 people that showed up from everywhere. I spoke to this guy named Armando and he's 100% Mexican. He drove all the way from Fresno on the holiday in hopes to get a picture with his idol Manny Pacquiao. I asked Armando if the tight security which did not allow any fans inside the gym to watch Pacquiao train hampered his hopes of seeing his Filipino idol even just a little bit. Armando replied to me saying, "Manny is a man for the people, he will find time for his fans. That's what he's all about and that's why all of us love him and all these people are here to support him."

As it turned out, access to the gym was unnecessary as Pacquiao called off training. There were several reasons thrown around as to why, but since I did not hear it from Pacquiao himself, it's better for me not to assume. Pacquiao arrived around 4 o'clock and canceled training for the day. His sparring partners went their way and some of the Wild Card regulars were allowed inside the facilities, but the people, they stood outside and waited.

Pacquiao stepped out for a few seconds to the cheers of the small crowd below. He waved at them and went back in. As the fans patiently waited for their champ to possibly come back out and acknowledge them. After about an hour more, I decided to check out the surrounding shops. I was getting so I went to the Thai restaurant next door to get some grub. To my surprise I was greeted by Pacquiao's security who asked me what I wanted. Looking around, there I saw Pacquiao was already eating with his entourage. The guy went out the back door to avoid the 30-fan mob who drove hours to see him.

Honestly I was a bit disappointed especially after talking to the fans who have waited several hours outside the Wild Card. I told the security guy that I simple needed to use the restroom and was let in. Went it, came back out.. figured perhaps he might still indulge hi fans after his meal despite noticing that Pac's black Benz was already strategically moved near the compound's exit for a quick getaway.

After all was said and done, Pac came out of the restaurant as people tried to chase him. Manny stopped for a sec to take some photos but drove off right after, all in a sequence that took about 30 seconds.

Yeap.. That's what I saw. And from what I was told by the regulars, that's pretty much how things are now at the Wild Card when Pacquiao is training.

Fortunately right when darkness was creeping after sunset, Freddie Roach stepped out the gym and posed for autographs and pictures to save the day and perhaps enable the people gathered to go home at least not empty handed.

You know me.. I only call things how I see it. If some will label me a hater now, so be it. Truth is, I can never imagine how hard it might be to be Pacquiao and have all these people left and right trying to get a piece of him. Regardless though, the list of leeches around Pacquiao continues to grow while more and more people come home from the Wild Card with broken hopes.

My thing is, why not just send the people home outright. How come Manny had to come out and show himself for 5 seconds to everyone and then sneak out the back door instead of just appealing to the 30 fans that he can't really do autographs or pictures at that moment and respectfully send the people home. That would've at least been classy. Or how about this, how long does it take to take photos with 30 people on a day you didn't train in the afternoon? I'm just asking.

If anything, I just wanted to get the word out so I won't have to see kids brought along by their parents to the Wild Card Gym in hopes of getting a picture with Pacquiao only to get their hearts broken. The rules are being implemented ladies and gents. Please be advised that these days, if you come to the Wild Card Gym, be prepared to come home disappointed. Pacquiao is a busy man and unless your name is Wahlberg, Bale or Duvall, you can't get inside the gym to see your idol train. And that's just the plain honest truth.


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