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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Q & A with Lupe Contreras, Election Update & More

Boxing Fans, Boxing announcer Lupe Contreras is under contract until 2017 with Top Rank Inc. to work all of their Univision, Tru TV, and HBO & PPV boxing events in whatever capacity they see fit; given his obvious speaking capabilities it would be a stretch of the imagination for Top Rank to transition him to the position of Production Data Wrangler or Boom Swinger. Under the guidelines of his existing contract Mr. Contreras can work for other promoters outside of boxing or non-televised events. Arguably one of the best working boxing announcers in the world, Contreras is considered by his peers as a very professional and thoughtful person who doesn?t need to wear a tuxedo to impress anyone. His journey to where is today could be told in a book or on film, but the modest Lupe downplays any notion that his life is extraordinary even though independent researchers might disagree.

I first approached Lupe about interviewing him several months ago and without hesitation the former community theatre actor (born in Mexico) agreed to do a question & answer session, but he didn?t have his contact info (business card) so the proposed project stalled until I stumbled upon his card (handed to me 5 years ago) while cleaning out my cluttered top desk drawer; a task long overdue.

After the surprising discovery, I emailed the suave Top Rank announcer questions and Contreras responded to all 17 questions sent to him without uttering an expletive that we know of. ABNN shied away from asking personal questions because his official bio didn?t dwell on that aspect of his life. By all accounts, he is a modest and private person; so we saw no need to ask him questions irrelevant to his professional journey such as who was your favorite teacher in elementary school. Staying away from those types of questions made our editing job, easier.

I prefer interviewing face to face, but our schedules wouldn?t permit such interaction; so we agreed to complete the process via email. This format has disadvantages such as difficulty in asking follow-up question and reading body language and vocal inflections that are non-existent when a journalist opts for the impersonal alternative email process. With that said, ABNN didn?t hesitate to draft questions and forward them to the veteran announcer with the readily recognizable face and voice. We began our computed aided discussion with a very simple question about his profession:

ABNN: Has the role of ring announcer evolved since you made your ring debut?

LC: Ring announcing itself has not changed a great deal since Michael Buffer evolved it into what it is today. I believe each announcer; if they are to be successful have to evolve as an announcer. You develop your own style & the delivery of your presentations.

ABNN: When did you audition for Top Rank and at what stage was your announcing career before you signed with Top Rank?

LC: I entered a contest in 2001 being conducted by Top Rank & Univision. I had done two small shows prior to that, so there was not much of a career to speak of.

ABNN: You reside in Houston, Texas. How much traveling do you do as an announcer and how many speaking engagements do you make per year?

LC: I travel approximately 100,000 miles per year & I work all of the Top Rank events which range 40-45 events annually.

ABNN: Your voice is your instrument, how do you take care of it and do you work out to stay in good physical shape?

LC: I don?t do a great deal to maintain my voice. I try to avoid getting ill. I do take a few vitamin supplements when I feel something coming on. I do put forth much more effort into working out; mainly in an effort to fit into my tuxedos.
ABNN: How advantageous to your career is the fact that you?re bilingual?

LC: I would not have a career without it. Being bilingual allowed me to fill a gap that existed at the time & eventually do more mainstream events.

ABNN: Do you write your own ring introductions and do you have the final say?

LC: Yes I do. There?s a standard format that most broadcasts follow, but you have the freedom to get a bit creative with it & add your own touches.

ABNN: You?re a boxing fan, did you ever box?
LC: I trained at a Muay Thai gym and had 3 amateur fights. I did it as a hobby & at a very low level; enough to get a feel for what was required to be successful at & enough to know that I did not possess that quality.

ABNN: What are the rules you have to abide by as an announcer?

LC: The most important is to realize you are not the focal point. You are there to add certain dramatic elements, but you are by no means the star attraction. When you have a mic (microphone) you shouldn?t feel obligated to use it. You have to know when to be quiet.

ABNN: Do you believe Puerto Rican and Mexican boxing fans are the most knowledgeable?

LC: Yes, they are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the sport. In a sense they keep the sport alive.

ABNN: As you well know, boxing fans can become rowdy?in your capacity as a ring announcer; you ever have to ask the audience to chill?

LC: No, I don?t believe in doing that. I think if you are a capable announcer, the crowd the crowd will follow your lead. You can guide them through what you want them to do.
ABNN: Name three people who have inspired you?

LC: As an announcer you can?t escape the influence of Michael Buffer. We all aspire to reach his heights. My eldest brother taught me to dream big and in a sense I inspired myself. It takes a lot to get on planes, do event after event & without internal motivation that would never happen.

ABNN: Can you describe your first meeting with Julio Cesar Chavez and do you think he fought too long?
LC: I don?t recall the exact moment I met him, but I vividly recall the first time I introduced him at the Staple Center in LA. It was surreal to be presenting a fighter that you had seen for years. I had the privilege of announcing his final 2 fights. As far as prolonging his career, I believe most fighters have a difficult time saying farewell to a sport they dedicated their lives to for so long.

ABNN: Does who the announcer is affect ticket sales?

LC: Not at all! Who announces may add a certain level of prestige to the event, but I doubt that it affects ticket sales in any way?

ABNN: Does community theatre still play a role in your life and can readers expect a book after you retire?

LC: I did community theatre as a teen & it helped me to develop the skills to perform in front of an audience. I haven?t done it since. As far as writing a book, perhaps a pamphlet; I don?t believe my life is interesting enough to fill an entire book?

ABNN: What are the misconceptions about workings as a boxing announcer?

LC: That it is a glamorous life. It certainly allows you to enjoy a few perks but nowhere near what your average person might imagine.

ABNN: In the ring your catch phrase is let?s see who the tougher guy is??do you have a line that sums up your life?

LC: Yes, I believe I?m a real life Forrest Gump. I?ve enjoyed some improbable experiences in my life; moments that I never believed I would enjoy.

ABNN: Being on the road continuously is difficult, how do you cope with the road grind and how many fights a year do you feel comfortable working?

LC: It can be a grind, but you just accept it as part of the job. You cope with it by realizing most people travel for fun & it?s something you get paid to do. I love work. I?m comfortable doing as many as come my way.

ABNN: Thank you for your time and answers, continued success!

LC: Thank you for taking the time to write this. I appreciate your time and effort.

Boxing News: Former Arizona boxing mentor Damien Stone?s Maricopa County Superior Court trial date was moved from 11/3 to 11/10 after a settlement couldn?t be reached during the conference hearing. Stone is accused of and charged with soliciting sexual favors from an under-cover police officer who posed as a minor. Stone was advertising on Craig?s list for boxing and fitness clients (children & adults) until the ad caught the eye of a whistle blower who dialed ABNN to report his concern?? heavyweight Razvan Cojanu (13-2) vs. Mario Heredia (11-1) and super welterweight Clifford Jordan (1-1) vs. Rashawn McCain (2-5-1) have been added to the Desert Heat III-Night of the Rising Stars show at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Tucson, Arizona. Tickets for Wild West Boxing Promotions promoted show are available at the Clarion Hotel Box-office and online through the WWBP website. WWBP is starting to add some real punch to their shows?.Carlos Castillo (4-0) takes on Cesar Alan Valenzuela at the Arizona Event Center in Mesa Arizona on Saturday November 7. It will be a real test for Castillo. Tickets for the Bout Maker Boxing Promotions produced show are available at the Arizona Event Center box-office.

Quick Jabs: Former Arizona State middleweight boxing champion and Television Cameraman Arturo Ortega purchased Clement Vierra?s Hard Knocks Gym in September and will keep the same name on the door. After 19 years, Clement told Arizona Boxing News & Notes it was time to move on??Veteran Phoenix boxing referee Wes Melton is traveling to Tokyo, Japan to work the IBF female Jr. Flyweight title bout between defending champion Naoko Shibata and challenger Maria Salinas on November 13. Melton traveled to the land of Yen last year to work Shibata?s successful defense against Alondra Garcia of Mexico; safe trip?.Time change for the Arizona State Silver Gloves Tourney to be held at a popular cantina (1011 3rd Street in Phoenix) Saturday & Sunday 11/7-8, 2015. The starting bout time for both days is now 1 PM and Saturday?s program ends at 5 PM due to a prior commitment; call Mike Sanchez at 480-560-8114 for more info?.The legendary annual Gene Lewis 3 day boxing tournament November -12-13-14 starts one day after our nation?s observance of Veterans Day. I hope everyone will take time to honor our veterans. Remember, a number of Phoenix Restaurants are graciously giving military veterans a free meal with proper identification. As for the GL event, call Josh at 480-834-1216 for more details.

Election Update: The deadline for submitting an application to become a candidate for a position on the USA Boxing Arizona Board of directors falls on November 13 and so far, only 3 interested people have taken the initial step in filing for an application and they are: Chief of Officials Richard Soto, boxing trainer Andrew Soto and South Mountain boxing figure Juan Valera. We have been informed that three other USA Boxing Arizona members are still mulling over their decision. We encourage all qualified candidates to run; otherwise vacant positions may be filled with politically motivated appointments. All applicants must undergo a thorough background check paid for by USA Boxing National Headquarters...?. Until Next Time!

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Don Smith.

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