Pacquiao may still win senatorship after losing Nike in anti-gay outburst

Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:28am EST
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MANILA (Reuters) - For all the criticism over his anti-gay comment and the loss of a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike Inc, Philippines world boxing champion Mann Pacquiao still looks set to win election to the country's senate in May, according to political analysts.

Nike, the world's largest sportswear maker, canceled its contract on Wednesday with the 37 year-old boxer-turned-politician, who has been the world champion in eight different weight divisions, after he described gays as "worse than animals".

But voters in the mostly Catholic Philippines appear unready to abandon support for the country's biggest sporting hero, who is running for one of 12 vacant senatorial seats up for grabs in the May 9 election.

The fighter has apologized for the comments, and analysts reckoned the controversy has caused limited damage to his campaign.

"Pacquiao has clearly offended the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with his comments on same sex marriage, but this group represents a minority and this will not affect the boxer's popularity among the voters," Benito Lim, political science professor at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, told Reuters.

"He may still win in the elections."

Many ordinary Filipinos believe Pacquiao made a mistake in his remarks on same-sex marriage because he hurt some sensibilities.

Many are more interested in what happens in April, when Pacquiao tries to win back the WBO welterweight title he lost last year to Floyd Mayweather.

Billed as his final fight, Pacquiao is going up against American Timothy Bradley.   Continued...

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is running for Senator in the May 2016 vice-presidential election, speaks to supporters during the start of national elections campaigning in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Janis Alano