BEIJING (AFP) – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao hopes to unearth the next Chinese world champion and help grow the sport with an academy in the largely untapped country.
He and Chinese sports-development firm Dancing Sports held a signing ceremony that included plans to build a Manny Pacquiao International Boxing Academy in the capital, the company said.
Zhou Wenxin, chairman of Dancing Sports, said their tie-up would deepen Chinese-Philippine relations.
The academy will draft in coaches from abroad to help develop Chinese boxing.
China’s most famous boxer, Zou Shiming, lost his WBO flyweight belt when he was knocked out by Japan’s unfancied Sho Kimura in July.
When Pacquiao’s plans for China were first announced in 2014, he said that he believed the partnership could help thaw frosty ties between the Philippines and China, who were engaged in a territorial maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
Relations have since improved considerably under current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
At the time, Pacquiao defended the decision to open a boxing academy in China instead of his own country.
“In the Philippines we don’t have a problem producing good boxers,” said Pacquiao.