Boxing great Manny Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion, is set to take on a new title outside the ring. The 37-year-old athlete rode his massive celebrity in his homeland to the Philippines Senate, according to multiple reports Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Pacquiao sits comfortably in eighth place in the election to fill 12 Senate seats. With 91 percent of the vote counted, Pacquiao had reportedly registered nearly 15 million votes, some 2 million clear of the 13th place candidate for the 12 seats.
Pacquiao had represented his home Sarangani province as congressman since 2010. He served while still training for and participating in lucrative bouts against the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley. Pacquaio split his time training in both the Philippines and Los Angeles. After defeating Bradley in April in Las Vegas, he announced he would retire from the sport.
Pacquiao's reputation as a politician is mixed at best. He showed up to the House just four days in 2014, his focus apparently on his multimillion-dollar fights and his relatively new pursuit of professional basketball as a player-coach.
"I don’t want to boast about what I have done in my district, but you can see my accomplishments in my district. It’s important that you help your constituents and not just sit in Congress," he said in his defense. "[In Congress] all you do is file bills, but the bills have no benefits to the people."
Pacquiao has also found himself in controversy recently by making remarks critics called anti-gay.
"It’s common sense," he said in a video discussing the subject of same-sex marriage. "Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals."
He would later apologize for offending people in the LGBT community but reaffirmed his stance against same-sex marriage. Pacquiao has seemingly weathered any blowback and is largely considered the most famous Filipino athlete ever. According to Forbes, he was the second-highest paid athlete in the world after earning some $160 million in 2015, trailing only Mayweather.
It is widely expected that Pacquaio will make a run at the Philippines presidency when his six-year Senate run is over. Controversial candidate Rodrigo Duterte, known for his tolerance of extrajudicial killings while running the city of Davao, won the presidential election this weekend.