Tuesday, February 3, 2009
(mini) Joe Frazier vs. (mini) Muhammad Ali.
The Bull vs. the Bear.
The Incredible Hulk vs. Juggernaut.
Yoda vs. Darth Vader.
In the sports universe, no bigger stars shine in the heavens than “Pretty Boy” Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Rabid fans from both hardcore boxing fanatics as well as the casual sporting observer follow both living legends. It has been said that Manny Pacquiao is our psyche’s physical manifestation of a warrior archetype.
We can reasonably attribute the same to Mayweather. Carl Jung, the famous 20th-century Swiss psychiatrist, regarded an archetype as a psychological organ (much like a biological organ) – which is an evolutionary construct that has morphed within our minds, shaped by human experiences and accumulated wisdom, over time.
According to these persuasive views, there are five recurring archetypical images in our collective consciousness:
* the Child
* the Trickster
* the Hero
* the Wise Old Man
* the Great Mother Goddess/Divine
Mayweather triggers (in us) the Child and Trickster archetypes. After all, (referencing the Child archetype) each of us harbors hidden or otherwise outward desires for being wealthy and famous beyond comprehension. To live in royal settings, to drive fancy cars, and to be surrounded by famous beautiful people is a fantasy shared by all – a “collective unconscious.”
Mayweather is the physical representation – a morphological manifestation – of the American Dream. A winner, an Olympian, in a nation with a gross domestic product approaching $14 trillion.
Born from an elite boxing family, Floyd has been trained all his life. 39 wins, 0 losses. No challenger deemed worthy.
Born of the American heartland, he came from a country that is the wealthiest and most powerful that has ever existed in human history – a colossus in the Titanic. In the boxing ring, Floyd also triggers the Trickster archetype, with hand speed and head/body coordination of a camera flash. The defensive postures and maneuvers, as well as counter-punching acumen, are cunning, deceptive, and precise. He is a master at his craft – the pinnacle of talent in the defensive boxing style. There are strengths and weaknesses.
In the martial arts/fight world, a warrior can command another style, each with a mastery of a coordinated skill set, as well as, a distinct philosophy (a way of looking at the world and method of living):
Shaolin (long-range fighting)
Dragon (combination of hard and soft attacks)
Tiger (power fighting)
White Crane (four principles of hurt, evade, penetrate and intercept)
Praying Mantis (close range fighting, offensive blocking, and sudden, whip-like attacks on vital organs)
Monkey style (unusual/unpredictable hopping, comical, and lethal defense – your defenses are weak, when amused).
Floyd Mayweather the boxer: #1 Shaolin, #5 Praying Mantis, and #6 Monkey fighting styles.
“Pretty Boy” and “Money” the archetype: the Child, the Trickster.
Allow these archetypes to sink you into a hypnosis.
Pacquiao arouses – in each of us – the Hero archetype. Freddie Roach is molded of the Wise Old Man archetype (the former boxer – with 53 total fights – turned the world’s best trainer). Joseph Campbell, the revered 20th century American mythologist and thinker, uncovered for us all the Hero in his literary and philosophical crowning jewel “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.1
Pacquiao hails from the forgotten, impoverished corner of the globe. In our actual world, not of televisions or of Hollywood, as much as 30,000 children die daily around the world as a result of poverty (according to UNICEF). Undergoing the severest excruciation of the flesh, a cursed and perpetual nutritional crucifixion, words alone serve no justice in accurately depicting such human experience.
Manny relates to the world’s desperate – those who go through the day without a single meal – because he himself clawed out of this abyss. Each of us can not choose the parents or settings that we are born into – we are given certain cards. We are forced to play them, or die. Born of a family with no money, Manny was forced to drop out of the 6th grade in order to provide food for his mother and siblings.
These hustles included selling cigarettes, serving as a “baker’s assistant.” working in the tuna market, and toiling as a construction worker. Listening to the Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas fight revealed his love – his life’s calling. Boxing in local competitions starting at age 12, Manny earned $1 - $2 if he emerged victorious. The movie Fight Club is an elegant setting compared to the raucous and destitute setting of Third World fights (with little or no health clinics – or the money to pay for it – in case of a fighter’s serious injury). For Manny: win the fight – and your family has something to eat for the day.
Manny Pacquiao invokes the Hero archetype, hailing from the poor, inspiring the sympathetic and idealistic middle and upper classes. Freddie Roach serves as the Wise Old Man archetype, much like the guide Virgil helping Dante’s travels in the Divine Comedy. The Philippines, in particular, is a struggling country of economic and political foibles, wobbling in mass poverty, and injured and maimed from decades of religious and ethnic strife and war. The attempted transition from a historically agricultural and hunter-gatherer society to an advanced geo-political landscape has proven most rough. An entire nation of 90 plus million – like 12 year old Manny – must claw and climb out of the abyss. As the Hero goes into a tremendous Adventure, so must this whole country traverse a path to the Promised Land.
Joseph Campbell’s Adventure of the Hero follows an archetypal template, summarized as:
1. the Call to Adventure – boyhood Manny’s plight for individual and family survival
2. Refusal of the Call – fear of leaving for Manila to undergo boxing training
3. Supernatual Aid – Freddie Roach as trainer (along with Bob Arum as guide)
4. Crossing of the First Threshold – defeat of hall of famer Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003
5. the Belly of the Whale (rebirth) – arrival in America as a transformational conduit
6. the Road of Trials – the wars with legends Eric Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez
7. Woman as the Temptress – conquest of vices such as womanizing and drinking
8. Apotheosis (the Hero’s sacrifice) – breakthrough expansion of consciousness
9. the Ultimate Boon – the Hero’s obtainment of benefits for society including inspiration, heightened morale, productivity gains, charity and help for the poor
10. the Return – retirement from boxing and foray into elected office
11. Master of the Two Worlds – the Hero’s shining example and life lessons for both (#1) the Capitalistic / Materialistic World and (#2) the Impoverished / Forgotten World
12. Fellow Man’s benefit from the Hero – the Hero bestows lasting good for his fellow Man, in this case: virtues, ideals, chivalry, sense of honor and dignity, and charity.
In Campbell’s summation:
The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. “Live,” Nietzsche says, “as though the day were here.” It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal – carries the cross of the redeemer – not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.2
Boyhood Manny’s desperation for food and scraps of money was in direct proportion to the plight of his family for survival. “Pacman” the boxer’s desperation in the ring is in direct proportion to the magnitude of his struggle as a child. You – Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Oscar de la Hoya – fought, and lost to, a desperate fighter; he has been desperate all his life.
As an adult, Manny’s “family” is now the entire country of the Philippines – long considered a struggling village in the global landscape. He is on a crusade to further the cause of 90 million of his cheering countrymen. “The Fighting Pride of the Philippines” is willing to lay down his life – and assume death – morbidly dragged from the boxing ring, if need be – rather than lose a fight. Philosophically, boxing is no longer a simple brutish match between two bleeding souls. Boxing is the stage for the grand plight of Filipinos, and for everyone else who struggles as, or for, the Forgotten Ones. The Hero has crossed the threshold of Apotheosis – a breakthrough expansion in consciousness – and has become willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, if necessary, rather than lose the fight. Rather than lose a fight against Filipinos as second- or third-class citizens in the world; rather than lose the fight against poverty; rather than lose a fight against pessimism. The Hero struggles, and gives, until he can struggle or give no more. “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The last two stanzas of his country’s national anthem bare the heart of the “People’s Champ.”
Thy banner dear to all hearts
Its sun and stars alright,
Oh, never shall its shining fields
Be dimmed by tyrants might.
Beautiful land of love, oh land of light,
In thine embrace 'tis rapture to lie;
But it is glory ever when thou art wronged
For us thy sons to suffer and die.
Manny Pacquiao has been declared by the Philippine Government as an official national treasure, a living monument guarding and promoting its history, culture, tradition, and national pride. As the Pacquiaos reside in the tumultuous southern region of the country, if Manny Pacquiao – the officially recognized national treasure – undergoes undue threat, he is defended by military land-, air-, and sea-based forces of the Philippine Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.
Pacman the boxer has grown from a 98 lb pre-teenage boxer (he hid 8 lb steel rods in his pockets) who first fought at the light flyweight limit of 106 lb, into a 147 lb welterweight Tazmanian devil. The whirling dervish of raining punches – with blinding speed – lands bruises, bloody cuts, and broken ribs on hall of fame-caliber opponents, several of which were knocked down for one of the only times in their long careers. The Typhoon from the Pacific decimates anything in its path. He wants Against All Odds fights. As a 5 foot 6.5 inch heavy underdog, he decimates the 5 foot 10.5 inch former middleweight champion “Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya.
Beating Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton at junior welterweight on May 2nd, means a fourth victory in four different weight classes, three championship belts in three different weight classes, against four top-notch opponents (two of which are future hall of famers), in his last four fights. His next two fights may see Manny Pacquiao eclipsing the boxing immortal "Homicide" Hank Armstrong.
In earlier allusion to style contrasted with Floyd Mayweather, we find the following:
Manny Pacquiao the warrior: #2 Dragon, #3 Tiger, and #4 White Crane fighting styles.
“Pacman” the archetype: the Hero. Freddie Roach the archetype: the Wise Old Man.
The attacking postures and maneuvers, as well as, punching acumen are forceful, obsessively relentless, and desperate. Pacman is also a master at his craft – the pinnacle of talent as an offensive dynamo. And like Floyd's style, there are strengths and weaknesses.
TO BE CONTINUED with parts two, three and four . . .