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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Salas open to work with Pinoys

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
12 May 2019


Ismael Salas.

The Cuban coach, who produced two Thai Olympic gold medalists and six Thai world pro champions, is willing to work with ABAP boxers, aware of the talent potential of Filipino fighters both in the amateur and paid ranks.

Ismael Salas, 61, is a coaching legend in boxing circles. He churned out four Olympic gold medalists for Cuba and two more for Thailand and has trained over 20 world pro titlists, including Danny Green of Australia, Kazuto Ioka of Japan, Saen Sor Ploenchit of Thailand, Jorge Linares of Venezuela, Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba, David Haye of England, Jessie Vargas of the US, Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan and the Filipino Flash Nonito Donaire, Jr.

Today, two of his prized protégés are unbeaten superwelterweight Fahad Al Thani of Qatar and welterweight Brian Mendoza, an American of Cuban descent. Al Thani, 31, has a 10-0 record with 10 KOs, and nine of his fights were held in Spain. Mendoza, 25, totes a 17-0 record with 12 KOs and last Saturday, blasted Carlos Rodriguez into submission with a body shot in the second round in the Jerwin Ancajas-Ryuichi Funai undercard at the Stockton Arena.

“I’m willing to work with Filipino fighters, amateur or pro,” said Salas. “I’ve trained fighters of different nationalities and lived in many countries. I know about Filipinos and the Philippines. I’ve worked with Nonito whom I consider to be not only a Hall of Fame fighter but also a class guy in and out of the ring. He’s very respectful, knowledgeable and well-read.”

Salas said if ABAP is serious about tapping his services, whether short or long term, he’s ready to discuss terms. He’s based in Las Vegas but has lived in Thailand, Japan, England and Qatar among others. Salas said he still has a house in Thailand where his three children and his Thai former wife live. He has now been married to a Japanese lady Kotomi for over 10 years and they have a son.

The former WBA two-time Trainer of the Year predicted before the Ancajas-Funai bout, the Filipino would retain his IBF superflyweight title. “Japanese fighters are tough, they never give up but their style is usually the same,” he said. “They like to fight in a straight line, either forward or backward. If you use side-to-side movement against them, they’re in trouble. I like Ancajas’ chances to win.” Salas’ analysis was right on the money. Funai was an easy target for Ancajas and only his heart kept him on his feet. Referee Edward Collantes, on ringside physician Dr. Gary Furness’ advice, stopped the fight in the seventh round.

Salas said he enjoyed living in London while training Haye. “It was a challenge,” he said. “Doing mitts with David left me with a busted hand and elbow. And since he was so tall, I wore high platform shoes when we did mitts.” The 6-3 Haye was a former WBC/WBA/WBO cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champion. He retired last year after losing his second straight fight with Tony Bellew by knockout.

Salas fought as an amateur and compiled a 46-5 record from 1971 to 1978. At 21, he decided to embark on a coaching career. Salas was the Cuban national coach from 1983 to 1989 then was hired by AIBA president Anwar Chowdhury to train Pakistan fighters. “I’ve been to Manila and I remember visiting Mayor (Mel) Lopez and his son Manny in their home when I was with the Pakistan boxing team,” said Salas. “Perhaps, someday, I will be given the opportunity to work with Filipino boxers.”


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