KEY POINTS

  • Manny Pacquiao used to be a conditioning coach for four dollars per session
  • Asi Taulava trained with Pacquiao late in the '90s
  • Both Pacquiao and Taulava established legacies in their respective sports

Prior to entering the ultimate stardom, Manny Pacquiao had juggled his boxing training with a handful of blue-collar jobs on the side in the Philippines. One of them, according to his former boss, was being a conditioning coach to a professional basketball player where he earned just a shade above four dollars per session.

Filipino businessman Dioceldo Sy recalled the humble beginnings of the Pacman, who at the time sacrificed leaving his family from down south of the country to fly over to Manila and pursue his boxing dreams.

Sy revealed that through his business partner, he ended up tapping a young Pacquaio to join Asi Taulava - a 6’9 half-Filipino basketball recruit from Hawaii – in training as part of the big man’s preparations entering the pro league in the Philippines.

"Asi was playing for my team and he was going out almost every night for fun. One day I catch him sleeping when I was picking him up, so I said to my business partner, 'I think we need to have somebody to condition Asi,'" said Sy in the Hoops Coaches International webinar, per ABS-CBN Sports.

"He said, ‘I have this guy Pacquiao, my boxer.’ Pacquiao was a nobody then, so I said, ‘Okay, get him to run Asi for MWF, 6-9 in the morning.’ That's how we started with Manny running with Asi. He (Pacquiao) was running around PICC (Philippine International Convention Center). He ran maybe 10-15 laps, Asi was doing half. That was 1997,” he added.

In his accounts, Sy recalled how “he would pick up Manny from his gym near the UST area in Sampaloc, Manila” and borrow three hours of his time to keep track of Taulava’s conditioning in exchange of a dime that would keep the then promising boxer’s pocket afloat.

More than two decades later, the grind continues for Pacquiao and Taulava as both are still active in their respective sports. They’ve taken separate roads, and Pacman’s legacy, obviously, is one that is unmatched. But as the boxing legend found global success, the 47-year-old big man started to make waves on his own, leaving a massive imprint in Philippine basketball to be hailed as one of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players.