Photographs by JP Yim
Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest boxers of all time and the only eight-division world champion in boxing’s history. Pacquiao rose from poverty to become not only a legendary boxer and leading philanthropist, but a Senator of the Philippines now running for President.
For twenty years, photographer, JP Yim has followed Manny on his journey from relative unknown to world renowned boxing star. Along the way Pacquiao became his nation’s greatest athlete, ambassador, philanthropist, and hero to millions in the Philippines and around the world.
Los Angeles, where Yim first met Pacquiao, was the boxer’s adopted home. It was under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach at the now famous Wild Card Gym that Pacquiao began his ascent to greatness.
Manny and Freddie found not only a career defining fighter-trainer partnership, but a friendship and brotherhood that has spanned over two decades. It was at the Wild Card Gym where Yim would photograph Manny for the first time in 2003 while he was training for his fight and upcoming Los Angeles debut at the historic Olympic Auditorium against New York’s Emmanuel Lucero. It would also be Pacquiao’s last fight as a relatively unknown boxer.
Pacquiao’s career trajectory would take him into legendary bouts with elite champions Érik Morales, Juan Manuel Márquez, and “The Golden Boy,” Oscar De La Hoya.
Manny’s training camp for the De La Hoya fight continued in Los Angeles with workouts and conditioning runs up the hills of Griffith Park. The fight week arrived in Las Vegas with each fighter hitting the scale, making weight, and cementing that the fight was on.
As important as the weigh-in was, Manny also had many fight week rituals: a Catholic priest blessed Manny, his fight clothes, and shoes during a pre-fight morning mass. As he got more famous the prayer service and bible studies moved from his hotel suite to a hotel ballroom to accommodate the legions of family, friends and fans that were coming to town.
Manny would dethrone Oscar De La Hoya before the start of the 9th round and the win would catapult the number one pound-for-pound fighter into a global sports superstar.
Pacquiao continued to challenge champion after champion as he moved up weight classes. It was a mystical journey with countless hours in gyms, executing a lifetime of three-minute rounds of shadowboxing, jumping rope, hitting the mitts, and sparring.
JP Yim is a Korean-American photographer, artist and filmmaker based in New York. As a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, in painting and sculpture, her work intersects the genres of documentary and fine art to inform and engage with empowering stories. Yim’s projects have taken her across the world documenting cultures from the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Tibetans in Lhasa, as well as the Kurds in Iraq. Her work continues to explore the redefinition and perception of equality within gender, race, sports and culture.
Yim’s work has been published in The New York Times, Time, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Stern, The Guardian, Le Monde, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Esquire and GQ. JP has collaborated on projects with Nike, Adidas, Puma, Lionsgate, Tag Heuer, Hublot, L’Oreal, Maybelline and Redken.