MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Manny Pacquiao is setting up a boxing institute in China and believes the country of 1.4 billion people can produce professional world champions.
Pacquiao said Wednesday that he has partnered with a Chinese company and the Chinese government to set up an institute in his name, with the aim of imparting the experience that has seen him win eight world titles.
He was speaking from Shanghai where he is promoting his Nov. 22 fight against Chris Algieri for a WBO welterweight title in Macau. He will be defending the welterweight crown he won in a rematch earlier last year with Timothy Bradley, avenging his 2012 loss.
Pacquiao, 35, said the Manny Pacquiao Boxing Education Institute will "start in Beijing, and the plan is for the whole of China."
While China has produced accomplished fighters and Olympic champions at amateur level, there is potential to translate that to professional ranks, saying the local boxers "just need some knowledge about boxing and should be taught the basics."
"Of course, with 1.4 billion population for the whole China, they can produce good fighters like other champions," he said.
Pacquiao, who is also a congressman, told ABS-CBN television in Manila he intends his new venture to also foster warmer relationships between the Philippines and China, whose territorial dispute in the South China Sea has intensified in recent months.
"This will even help in strengthening our relationship ... especially since in this project, the Chinese government is involved," he said.
Pacquiao said he would visit the academy "once a month, once in three months, to supervise them."
On top of his duties in the academy and as congressman and boxer, Pacquiao has taken on the role of playing coach of a new Philippine professional basketball team which will see action for the first time in October.
He said the team trains every day, except on weekends. "I can handle it," he said.
The well-loved Bible-quoting boxer is regarded as a folk hero by Filipinos, and his win over Brandon Rios in Macau last November was a boost to a country recovering from Typhoon Haiyan which killed more than 6,300 in the central Philippines.