Boxer Manny Pacquiao’s recent homophobic rant has already cost him his endorsement deal with Nike, and now it’s led to his being banned from The Grove, a popular Los Angeles shopping complex — for the second time.
The welterweight fighter ignited a firestorm in February when he said gay people were “worse than animals” during a talk show appearance in his native Philippines. Pacquiao, who has made no secret of his faith-based antipathy towards the gay community in the past, faced a huge backlash and eventually made an apology while claiming his intent was never to “condemn” anyone.
He also said “I’d rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desire of the flesh” and “I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”
But his tepid apologies did little to assuage his critics, including the owner of The Grove, a high-end shopping mall not far from the training facility the boxer is currently using to prep for his upcoming April 9 fight against boxer Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao and his entourage were reportedly spotted at mall catching a movie this week, according to TMZ.
“These are statements of hatred,” The Grove’s owner Rick Caruso told Rolling Stone on Friday. “A lot of people from the gay community come to The Grove and they have a right not to feel uncomfortable. Manny Pacquiao is no longer welcome.”
The Grove had actually banned Pacquiao previously for anti-gay rhetoric in 2012. The mall took issue with critical comments the boxer reportedly made in reaction to President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, but after he claimed never to have referenced a Biblical verse calling for gays to be “put to death,” the ban was lifted.
Caruso’s comments were not dissimilar from Nike’s, which ended a decades-long relationship with the fighter on Feb. 17 when his anti-gay rhetoric went viral. “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comment abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community,” a Nike spokesperson told MSNBC in a statement at the time. “We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
“This was another step in Nike’s march toward equality, you cannot say the things that Pacquiao said,” OutSports managing editor Cyd Zeigler told MSNBC at the time. “Comparing my husband and me to animals or saying we’re worse than animals — that doesn’t work for Nike and it doesn’t work for any major corporation.”
Some of Pacquiao’s peers in the fight world have also distanced themselves from him. Actor and WWE superstar David Bautista, who has an openly gay mother, is on record calling him a “f–king idiot,” and Ronda Rousey the former undefeated UFC champ, has also been critical of Pacquiao, recently telling TMZ: “I understand that a lot of people use religion as a reason to be against gay people, but there was no ‘Thou Shall Not Be Gay.‘ “
Even his longtime rival Floyd Mayweather, who has made controversial homophobic comments of his own in the past, has condemned what Pacquiao said. “We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own,” he recently told TMZ in a separate interview.
Meanwhile, besides his next fight — which is expected to be his last — Pacquiao is up for a Senate seat in the Philippines this year. He has served in his country’s House of Representatives since 2007, where he’s earned a reputation for a less-than-stellar attendance record. He did however fight hard to prevent legislation that would have provided more access to contraception for low income citizens, which ultimately prevailed.