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The art and soul of Carl "The Rev" Roberts


PhilBoxing.com




August 17, 2021
San Leandro, California

He may just be the most interesting man in Hollywood and the Hills of Beverly,” the late Hermie Rivera once said of his friend Carl Roberts,” He is in his element behind the bar, the microphone or the painter’s easel. He is blessed with the looks, wit and humor that can disarm a bank robber.”

They call him “The Rev”. The man with the mellifluous voice and Irish brogue has been, in his words, a Levity Concierge in the Bar trade for many a year. He can also belt out soul-searching, heart-warming songs. He has organized bands and often headlined shows with the 15-piece ensemble called The New Breed Orchestra performing in Southern California bars like 14 Below and Pacific Dining Car---places where stars hang out far away from prying eyes. More recently, he was the manager for the posh Wally’s in Beverly Hills where Hollywood glitterati and average citizens can wine and dine within earshot of each other.


Wally’s at Beverly Hills, California. Carl Roberts introduces me to Mrs. Valerie Gibbons, the better half of MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons

On a whim one summer night in 2019, I visited Wally’s at Beverly Hills, where Carl Roberts was the manager, just to catch up on things.

Welcome home,” The Rev expressed to me and a few others after finding my table with Mrs. Valerie Gibbons in tow in the packed house. We were to meet again a week later July 20, 2019 at the MGM Grand for the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman title fight.

I miss your dad Hermie. But tonight, let’s start our own brand of memories,” said my friend Carl Roberts.

All of my father’s friends have a special place in my heart.


Hermie Rivera and his friend Carl Roberts (Circa June 2012)


I’ve been married to my Southern Belle for 17 happy years…12 for me and just the five for herself.”



It is an honor meeting someone like Carl Roberts. He is a devoted family man who married Lauri Cook Roberts who was a singer in The New Breed Orchestra. The Roberts family have a beautiful daughter named Ella.

Of interest, The Rev paints as much as he can. From legends of the music industry, sports icons such as basketball and lately boxing, Roberts has shown his artistic flair with all sorts of subjects and mediums.

A sampling of his art reveals the kindness of his soul.

His passion for sports started with Muhammad Ali---The Greatest.

The Great Ali came to Dublin, Ireland in 1972 to fight Al ‘Blue’ Lewis. It was a huge event and I was but 3 years old. Fast forward to 1978 when Ali fought Spinks for the first. I was allowed to stay up for the 4 a.m. fight, hearing the neighbors’ stories of the Great Ali. Ali lost. Everyone was devastated! How could this happen? I was deemed the Jinx! Forever banned from the watching of important sporting events! No soccer, rugby, hurling…Nothing!“So, I delved into boxing! Into its history, its writers, into the fighters, their trainers and promoters. It has grown into a LOVE for the sport and all it entails,” Roberts reminisced



His favorite fighter not named Manny Pacquiao is Luisito “Lindol” Espinosa, the former WBA bantamweight and WBC featherweight champion from the Philippines. To this day, I still don’t have any inkling if Carl knows that his good friend Hermie Rivera and (much later) I once managed the original Filipino Golden Boy.

According to Carl Roberts, “Luisito “Lindol” Espinosa who had been a bantamweight champ had moved up to featherweight. Louie was tall, slender with a whiplash right hand! He was looking for revenge against his nemesis Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez who handed Lindol a KO in his first featherweight title crack. Luisito knocked him out in splendiferous fashion!!! He went on a 12-fight tear from there and defended his WBC featherweight title numerous times some in great wars. His 2-round destruction of Kennedy McKinney was spectacular. He was robbed in his next fight, a rematch with Caesar Soto whom he had beaten in their previous donnybrook. Always exciting, always trying for the KO! I love Luisito Espinosa, one of the greatest Fiipino boxers!”



More recently, I presented John Riel Casimero a painting. He won by split decision against Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba last Saturday, August 14th.There were great Filipinos like Nonito Donaire, Jr., Dodie Boy and Gerry Penalosa, Michael Farenas, Rodel Mayol, the Laurentes. I enjoyed watching their bouts. Great people and very nice to hang out with.”



Other non-Filipino boxers close to Carl’s heart are Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez both of whom he considers two of the best as fighters and subjects for his paintings. There were also the likes James Toney, Archie Moore, Salvador Sanchez, Evander Holyfield , Emmanuel Augustus, Arturo Gatti. There is a mural of the late Kobe Bryant somewhere in Los Angeles courtesy of The Rev.
I did meet up again with Carl Roberts along with Robert Lyons and Helena Buscema on July 20, 2019 before and after Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao beat Keith “One Time” Thurman to become boxing’s oldest welterweight champion. It was an incredible event and a reunion I will never forget.
Lucky for me, Carl Roberts and company are careful and wary of the new viral adage…
What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook.”


Manny Pacquiao and Sean Gibbons in front of Carl Roberts’ Painting(August 2021)


Carl Roberts and friends (circa 2019-21)


Carl Roberts shown here presenting a long-overdue painting for Freddie Roach (August 2021)


A custom-made jersey from the Philippines for Carl Roberts I intend to give him on our next reunion.

Author’s notes: All photographs are courtesy of Carl Roberts by way of PhilBoxing.com. All rights reserved.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.


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