Manny Pacquiao is planning one more bout. Source: Flickr
Nike has scrapped its sponsorship deal with the Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao after he said homosexuals were “worse than animals”.
Nike announced: “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
The boxer, who is running for the Philippines senate in May as a conservative Christian, made the comments in a video post on the Philippine’s TV5’s election site.
“It’s common sense,” said the 37-year-old, who later apologised. “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
He is the first and only eight-division world champion, in which he has won 10 world titles. He was the first to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes. According to Forbes, he was the world’s second highest paid athlete last year.
The former world champion initially appeared unrepentant with an Instagram post saying that he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says”.
However, as the media storm rose, he wrote on his Facebook page that he was “not condemning LGBT”, while still voicing his opposition for gay marriage.
He said: “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. God Bless!”
His anti-gay tirade caused outrage for many in the diverse archipelago.
The country’s most popular gay comedian, Vice Ganda, tweeted #PrayForMannyPacquiao to his 6.7 million Twitter followers. He said: “Some people think they can judge people like God just because they’ve attended a prayer meeting and read the Bible. The senate needs experts on politics and law, not blind prophets.”
Pacquiao, who was beaten on points by Floyd Mayweather last year in the so-called “fight of the century”, is due to fight Timothy Bradley Junior in April.
It is due to be his final fight before May’s election, which has been interpreted as a springboard for a bid for the presidency.
Pacquiao was raised as a Roman Catholic but he converted to Protestantism. He said it was part of a broader transition from a womanising gambler to devoted family man. He has said only those who were “born again” could enter the kingdom of God in the afterlife.