By Alex P. Vidal
LAS VEGAS – If it is true that “God punished” Manny Pacquiao supposedly for converting from Roman Catholic to “born again” Christian, then God is not just; He is cruel and He plays favorites.
Since most of us believe that God is pure love in its most supreme form, He could not have guided Juan Manuel Marquez’s lethal right to inflict harm on a faithful follower.
God has laid down from all eternity the law which governs all things, like light from the sun; but He will never change the economy of world boxing for Marquez who is a Roman Catholic.
What happened to Pacquiao had also happened to other great marquee names such as Muslim convert Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Roberto Duran, Tomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and to the now Rev. George Foreman.
When all these ring titans were felled with one single blow in high profile fights, nobody blamed God or their conversion to any faith for their Waterloo.
Ali (56-5, 37 KOs), formerly Cassius Clay, converted from Christian to Muslim after winning the world heavyweight crown from Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964. As a Muslim, he racked up 10 straight wins before losing by unanimous decision to Joe Frazier for the world heavyweight championship on March 8, 1971 in New York.
In this defeat to Frazier (32-4, 27 KOs), Ali was floored with a single punch and nearly suffered a knockout loss but managed to finish the fight scheduled for 15 rounds. Nobody blamed his shocking loss for his decision to embrace Allah.
Before he became a pastor, Foreman suffered a humiliating 8th round technical knockout defeat to Muslim Ali on October 30, 1974 in Zaire. In this epic war dubbed “Rumble in the Jungle,” the Christian God and Allah did not intervene to save their respective “bets.”
Another Muslim fighter Hasim Rahman (50-8, 41 KOs) made headlines all over the globe when he scored a major upset in the heavyweight division with a one-punch knockout win over previously indestructible Brition Lennox Lewis (41-2, 32 KOs) at the Carnival City, Brakpan, Gauteng, South Africa on April 22, 2001. Again, nobody credited Allah for Rahman’s extra-ordinary power that night. Nobody blamed Lewis for missing his “duties and obligations” as Christian Anglican faithful.
The distinction between religion and superstition is fundamental in the fall of Pacquiao.
Voltaire, in his magnificent prayer, once addressed to God in the article “Theist” where he expounded his faith finally and clearly: “The theist is a man firmly persuaded of the existence of a supreme being as good as he is powerful, who has formed all things; who punishes, without cruelty, all crimes, and recompenses with goodness all virtuous actions…Reunited in the principle with the rest of the universe, he does not join any of the sects which all contradict one another. His religion is the most ancient and the most widespread; for the simple worship of a God preceded all the systems of the world.”