Boxing legend works to knock out polio
Top: Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and Rotarian Liza Elorde, members of the Rotary Club of Manila 101, Metro Manilia, Philippines, make the "This Close" gesture during Pacquiao's training camp in Los Angeles in October. Photo courtesy of Liza Elorde
Bottom: Pacquiao in a "This Close" campaign ad.
In addition to fighting his opponents in the ring, boxing legend and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao has set his sights on a far more dangerous opponent: polio.
Pacquiao, a member of the Rotary Club of Manila 101, Metro Manila, has joined a growing roster of celebrities participating in Rotary’s "This Close" public awareness campaign to help end polio.
He won a closely contested fight against longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez on 12 November in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. During his prefight workouts in Los Angeles, Pacquiao wore a T-shirt bearing his "This Close" photo, says Liza Elorde, president of the Manila 101 club. Sharp-eyed viewers of HBO’s 24/7 prefight series may have seen it.
"I brought the shirt from Manila and asked him to wear it during his training, and he said yes without hesitation," Elorde says. She was in Las Vegas for the fight because her son, who is also a professional boxer, had fought earlier in the week -- wearing the Rotary emblem on his trunks.
"The 'This Close' campaign is so dear to my heart," says Elorde, who has family members who are polio survivors. "I'm doing all I can in my own little way to help eradicate polio."
Rotary began its pioneering work in polio prevention in 1979 -- the year after Pacquiao was born -- with a major project that administered the oral vaccine to millions of children in the Philippines.
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