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By Maloney L. Samaco

Sun, 15 Feb 2009

The term ?wild card? in American slang refers to something unpredictable. The name perfectly fits the Wild Card Gym, in Hollywood, the ideal place to train Manny Pacquiao and other prominent fighters. The Gym makes Pacquiao ?unpredictable? which converted him into an incredible fighting machine and the world?s number one boxer pound-for-pound.

Wild Card Gym is located at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Vine Street, in the heart of Hollywood, California. It is a small, simple, four-wall structure. The walls are posted with boxing pictures, fight posters, photos of famous boxers. The most famous poster in the middle of the gym is a black-and-white picture of a young Muhammad Ali.

Aside from Pacquiao, other prominent boxers who trained and honed up their boxing skills at the Wild Card Gym are James "Lights Out" Toney, Bernard ?The Executioner? Hopkins, Peter Manfredo Jr., Kahren Harutyunyan, Juan "Hispanic Causing Panic" Lazcano, Ana Julaton, Kingsley Ikeke, Rey "Boom-Boom" Bautista, Bobby "The Sniper" Pacquiao, Diosdado "Prince" Gabi, Z "The Dream" Gorres, Gerry Pe?alosa, Dimitri "The Baby" Kirilov, O?Neil Bell, Craig McEwan, and Amir Khan.

Added to the growing list of top rated boxers are WBO minimumweight champion Donnie ?Ahas? Nietes and AJ ?Bazooka? Banal. Nietes prepares himself for the defense of his title against Mexican Erik Ramirez of Mexico on February 28 in Mexico.

Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach owns and operates the Wild Card Gym, officially known as the Wild Card Boxing Club. Roach himself trains his fighters at the Wild Card. Known as "La Cucaracha" (the cockroach) and "The Choir Boy,? Roach had 150 amateur bouts, under the guidance of his father Paul, before turning pro in 1978. As a professional, he was trained by the legendary Eddie Futch. He ended his pro career with a record of 39 wins via 15 KOs and only 13 losses.

Upon retiring as a professional boxer in 1987, Roach began training boxers together with Futch and eventually trained fighters on his own. He produced his first world champion in Virgil Hill. Roach has continued training and since then was able to produce a total of 17 world champions.

Roach is ably assisted by the following trainers: Irish Tommy Barett, Troy "Bodacious" Bodean, Eric Brown, Buboy Fernandez, Marcus ?It Ain?t Easy? Harvey, Juan Carlos ?El Panda? Martinez, Paul Mayorquin, Cynthia Prouder, and Sammy "The Toy" Stewart.

Roach was honored as Trainer of the Year in 2003 by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Adding to the growing list of awards, he was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the New England Boxing Hall of Fame, and most recently the California Boxing Hall of Fame.

Yahoo Sports published that, ?In seven years, Roach methodically molded Pacquiao into the world?s greatest fighter. And the world?s greatest fighter had his year in 2008, thanks in large part to Roach work in the gym and in the corner. For that, Roach is the easy choice as the Yahoo Sports Trainer of the Year for 2008.?

Top photo: Freddie Roach (R) with prized pupil Manny Pacquiao at the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles.

(To be continued)

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