MANILA, Philippines — Boxing star Manny Pacquiao said Thursday that he respects Nike's decision to sever ties with him over his comments about gay relationships but stood pat on his opposition to same-sex marriage and added he's happy that "a lot of people were alarmed by the truth."
The American apparel giant said Wednesday that it will no longer have any business dealings with the Filipino boxing champion, adding that it found his comments "abhorrent." Nike says it strongly opposes any kind of discrimination.
"Whatever decision Nike makes is its decision and I respect that and its sponsorship of me now only involves my clothes for my fight," Pacquiao told reporters during a break in his training for an April 9 bout with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.
"Our contract has already ended aside from sponsoring the boxing," he said.
The Bible-quoting Pacquiao, 37, has become an active Christian in recent years and has publicly declared his opposition to same-sex unions. When he was asked by a local TV network as a Senate candidate about his views on same-sex marriages, Pacquiao came under fire for his curt reply.
"It's just common sense," Pacquiao said in the remarks posted online by the TV5 network earlier this week. "Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?"
Animals, he said, were better because they recognize gender differences, and "if you have male-to-male or female-to-female (relationships), then people are worse than animals."
Among those who reacted strongly were popular gay celebrities in the country, some of whom declared they have lost their adulation for him.
Even his American boxing promoter Bob Arum has criticized Pacquiao.
"What he's saying is diametrically opposed to what I believe," said Arum, who is promoting Pacquiao's upcoming fight with Bradley. "I'm in favour of gay rights and same-sex marriage. I'm apologetic personally to the gay movement in the United States."
Pacquiao has found some allies. An opposition senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, told ABS-CBN TV network that Pacquiao was right, adding that if LGBT groups would insist on same-sex marriage, "it's better for them to go to planet Mars."
Pacquiao, whose rag-to-riches life story and legend as an eight-division boxing champion have brought honour to his poor Southeast Asian nation and wealth to him, has apologized for hurting people's feelings. He added he did not intend to condemn gays.
"I am not condemning the LGBT," Pacquiao said. "What I am condemning is the act."
"I'm happier because I'm telling the truth ... It's worse if we will hide the truth," he said. I'm happier that a lot of people were alarmed by the truth."
Jim Gomez, The Associated Press