UFC superstar Ronda Rousey and undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather have finally found something they both agree on – Manny Pacquaio’s homophobic rhetoric has no place in the public discourse.
The embattled welterweight fighter, who also serves as a Congressman in his native Philippines, has been widely condemned for comparing same-sex couples to “animals” during a televised interview earlier this month. He also later posted, and then, deleted a Bible verse from Leviticus saying gays should be put to death on his Instagram page. Although Pacquiao later apologized for “hurting people,” with his remarks, he also claimed, “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.”
Nike, which has had a relationship with Pacquaio for a decade, cut ties with the fighter on Feb. 17, shortly after the “animals” remark 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.”
Rousey, who has been outspoken on a number of hot button topics, recently told the gossip website TMZ in a video interview that Pacquiao’s comments deserve to be condemned.
“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,‘ “ she told TMZ. “God never said that, and I really think that our pope now is boss. He was saying something the other day that religion should be all-encompassing and should be about loving everyone. And I think people take the wrong message sometimes.”
Pacquaio has been very public with his religious views, cultural conservatism and anti-gay marriage perspective in the past. As recently as 2013, he told the National Conservative Examiner, “God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other. It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.” And as a member of Congress in the Philippines he fought to prevent increased access to contraception for the poor.
Curiously, Mayweather, his longtime boxing rival, has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, and despite some controversial rhetoric of his own in the past, he too slammed Pacquiao’s language regarding LGBT couples. “We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own,” he recently told TMZ.
Rousey and Mayweather have long been engaged in a public war of words. She has called out the boxer for his history of domestic violence incidents, whereas he has ridiculed her relative lack of wealth and notoriety. Rousey, who has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential race, suffered the first defeat of her career at the hands of her fellow UFC fighter Holly Holm last November. GOP front-runner Donald Trump gloated over her defeat on social media. “Glad to see that @RondaRousey lost her championship fight last night. Was soundly beaten - not a nice person!,” he tweeted.
In the aftermath of that defeat, Rousey has admitted that she contemplated suicide. ”Honestly, my thought in the medical room, I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’” the 29-year-old said during an appearance on “Ellen”. “Literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing. What do I do anymore? No one gives a s–t about me anymore without this.’”
Rousey later said the love of her boyfriend and the humbling experience of losing helped her get back on track, and she plans to mount a comeback this year. Meanwhile, despite the bad headlines, Pacquaio is still in the midst of a campaign for a Senate seat in his home country and he has an upcoming fight scheduled against Timothy Bradley on April 9, which is expected to be his last.