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FREDDIE ROACH AND THE WILD CARD GYM (CONCLUSION)


PhilBoxing.com




Freddie Roach is an avid fan of ?The Greatest? Muhammad Ali. He had a picture of Ali giving advices to his daughter Laila, who took up the ruthless sport following his footsteps. The picture was taken at the Wild Card Gym. According to Roach, Ali?s visit was the happiest day of his life.

Usually Manny Pacquiao trains following Roach's regular timetable which includes sparring sessions three times a week and on the other alternate three days they work with the techniques using the punch mitts.

When they are training with the mitts, Pacquiao and Roach would converse most of the time. Each session lasts for three minutes, like a regular round of boxing, and then they take a break for 30 seconds. On regular training days, they practice for six or seven rounds.

He calls the Pacquiao "my pride and joy," and says the number one pound-for-pound boxer of the world is like a son. Roach keeps a treasured framed photo next to his bed. It was a picture of him celebrating victory with Pacquiao.

When Roach went with Pacquiao to the Philippines, fans swarmed the admired trainer and called him as "Coach Freddie." His fame grew with his favorite pupil. "They say I'm the third most popular person in the Philippines," he said. "Pacquiao is No. 1, the president's No. 2, and I'm No. 3."

Even if he is a millionaire, Roach lives alone in a simple, two-bedroom apartment next to the Wild Card Gym on the second floor of a Hollywood strip mall. He could hear the sound of punches on the other side of the wall which usually serves as his alarm clock.

During actual fights and in practices, Roach speaks calmly. Some eyewitnesses think Parkinson's may cause his tranquillity, but Roach says it just his style to be cool and that yelling at his boxers does not work positively on the lessons he taught them.

Roach has trained actors and celebrities including actors Mickey Rourke, Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Wesley Snipes, and singer Aimee Mann. He hired former boxers to make a living with their private lessons in the Wild Card Gym.

Roach takes pills to maintain his sturdiness required of a trainer due to his disease. Bernard Hopkins says he has a difficulty hearing his trainer's slurred speech, but he calls Roach one of the best trainers in the sport. "It's the handicap that didn't affect his training," Hopkins said.

Roach fought as a super bantamweight and lightweight as a pro boxer, but missed his dream of a world title. When Eddie Futch, his trainer, advised him to quit, he ignored the advice and fought five more bouts and lost four of them. "I just wasn't ready. When he asked me to retire, I just couldn't see it," Roach said. "I should have quit."

Roach finally quit as a boxer in 1987 and worked momentarily as a telemarketer in Las Vegas before Futch hired him that same year to help him train aspiring fighters. Nick Khan, now a Los Angeles attorney, said of his long time friend, ?He sort of had a realization that he needed boxing in his life."


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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