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Freddie Roach and Manny 'PacMan' Pacquiao: Master and apprentice

Joseph Herron Updated
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"Always two there are, no more, no less: a master and an apprentice."
- Master Yoda, The Phantom Menace, 1999

After mowing through every credible opponent in Asia, a sparsely known Super Bantamweight title holder by the name of Emanuel Dapidran Pacquiao decided to take the advice of his business manager, Rod Nazario, and travel to America in search of bigger opportunities within the world of boxing.

Upon arriving in the United States for the first time in 2001, the unheralded “diamond in the rough” not only had a hard time finding a promoter who was willing to take a chance on the young, talented fighter, but Manny also found it extremely difficult to persuade a world class trainer to nurture his athletic gifts.

One fateful day, Pacquiao’s manager informed him of a trainer who was working with two Filipino fighters at the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles. His name was Freddie Roach.

Although the Massachusetts born trainer had already made a name for himself within the boxing community by working with Marlon Starling, Virgil Hill, Wayne McCullough, and actor Mickey Rourke, the former Eddie Futch protégé had no idea that his career would eventually escalate to legendary status after taking on the young Filipino puncher.

Freddie remembers that day back in 2001.

“I always say, you never know when the next Muhammad Ali is going to walk through your door. This little Filipino kid comes into the gym with his manager and asks me if I could work mitts with him. After about one round of working the mitts with him, I said, man…can this kid fight.”

“Then Manny went over to his manager and told him that he found a new trainer…I guess he meant me.”

The rest is history.

After thirteen years together, both men attribute their individual accomplishments to each other.

“Manny’s unbelievable and he makes me look good,” states Freddie Roach. “He’s the best fighter in the world, and that’s why he makes me the best trainer in the world. Manny Pacquiao is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Growing up without a father figure in his life, Manny insists that Freddie has served as much more than just a fight trainer.

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“Freddie has been a father to me, a brother and a best friend since the day we met,” professes Manny Pacquiao.

“I cannot overstate his importance to me and how much he has impacted my life. I am a better person for having Freddie in my life. We are a team. In the gym, I call him Master Freddie. He is the boss and he is the teacher. And even though we do not spend as much time together as we used to, we will always have a special bond that will remain strong for the rest of our lives.”

Although Freddie and Manny will go down in history as possibly the most successful fighter/trainer tandem in the history of the sport, the story hasn’t reached its conclusion.

The dedicated Hall of Fame trainer insists that his fighter still has a genuine passion for the sport of boxing.

“He could do so many other things,” claims the dedicated fight coach. “But this is what he does best and he still works extremely hard to prepare for each fight. If he didn’t want to fight any longer, there’s no way he would go through with what he does every day.”

“He may not be that 22 year old kid any more, but he’s still the best fighter in the world.”


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