Park Ji-Sung And Manny Pacquiao.
As a fan of both soccer and boxing, I was extremely pleased to see what a good weekend Asian men had in both sports.
The English Premier League has become one of the most watched and wealthy soccer leagues in the world. This is an especially exciting time of the year for fans of English soccer as the season is drawing to a close and the fight to become champions gets more intense. This weekend, the two teams at the top of the league - Chelsea and Manchester United - met in a game that turned out to be one of the best of the season. Many believed that whoever wins this game will go on to become champions. As it turned out, the game was won by Manchester United who, barring a major catastrophe, are likely to be this year's champions.
The game aside, what was of most interest to me, was the peformance of Manchester's South Korean midfielder, Park Ji-Sung. As I alluded to here, Park is something of an unsung hero for Manchester United. Despite being embraced by the Manchester faithful, as well as being well-respected by coaches and teammates, Park seems to be unpopular with the media and soccer commentators, who have generally overlooked or dismissed his contribution to the team's success, and even questioned whether he deserves to be in the team.
With this in mind, it was nice to see the press finally take notice of Park's contribution - especially in a game of such significance. Following the match, the papers were full of kudos for Park's performance. The Guardian, talks about Park being the driving force behind the teams success, and the BBC also reports on Park's "peerless" performance. Both the Chelsea FC and Man U websites made note of Park's performance. Bear in mind that Manchester United are one of the most successful teams in the world, and have had (do have) some of the best footballers playing for them. For Park to stand out in a team of stars really does underline his value as a player. I my opinion, Park is a good enough player to make the squad, and maybe the first eleven, of most European national teams - the press just didn't seem to notice.
The other highlight for Asian sportsmen over the weekend was the latest victory of boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Although by no means his best performance, he defeated Shane Mosely - a fighter considered by many to be one of the finest of his generation. In post-fight comments, Mosley highlighted the exceptional speed and power of Pacquiao, who in addition to being arguably one of the best boxers of all time, is a true role model for Asian men.
As I've stated elsewhere, Asian and Asian-American sportsmen are unsung as pioneers in the struggle of Asian men to overcome stereotypes, and limiting ways of thinking. Park is a true pioneer - good enough, strong enough, and determined enough to make it as a regular in one of the world's top soccer teams, and even occasionally standing out in a team of stars. Pacquiao is the "impossible" Asian man - aggressive, fearless, and hyper-masculine, his achievements and conduct in and outside of the ring bear no resemblance to the accepted demeaning stereotypes of Asian men's characters.