Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao has Bible study and prayer to thank for his improved performance in training and in the ring, according to his coach Freddie Roach.
Pacquiao, a Roman Catholic who has won six world titles, was not always the Christian model he is now. The Filipino athlete indulged in nightclubs, drinking and gambling just last year, his trainer revealed, but realized it was time to change his ways after he barely held onto to his WBO welterweight title against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas in November.
The 33-year-old boxer turned to Christ, began reading the Bible on a regular basis and spending more time with his family, which has made him a more focused athlete in the ring, according to Reuters.
"Manny has got rid of a lot of distractions in his life and he has some new distractions that are a lot better than the old ones. The news ones are a lot of Bible study and a lot of praying, and those are not so strenuous a task," Roach explained.
The coach added, "He gave his nightclub away, he gave his casino away, he doesn't gamble any more and he doesn't drink any more. He and his wife are together all the time now and they are very happy together.
"Before, he had a ton of distractions that were mentally very tasking on him. Now he is just praying, he's gone back to the bible and it's working out very well for him. He seems like a happier and nicer person."
"I just want to focus on my career, focus on praying and follow the commandments of God," said Pacquiao, who is also a congressman in his country.
"No more gambling, no more drinking. Reading the Bible is to know the Bible, and I believe that the Bible is the manual for life," he added.
Pacquiao still faces allegations from some, such as undefeated boxing rival Floyd Mayweather, that he uses performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather questioned how Pacquiao was able to increase so much in weight while taking on stronger fighters, and pointed out that it took him years to bulk up.
The Filipino fighter has strongly denied the allegations, saying that he will even take legal action against the American boxer, but has also said that he will pray for him.