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Jul 01st
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Home Boxing Robert Garcia Interview
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Robert Garcia Interview

robert-garcia-boxing-trainerIn the mid 90's... Robert Garcia, a former IBF Super Featherweight champion, shared the ring with greats like Diego Corrales and Joel Casamayor.  Even before Fernando Vargas, he was putting Oxnard, California on the map.  Fast forward to 15 years later, that town is not only on the map, but one of boxing's hotbeds for talent, both homegrown, and imported.  Boxing has always been a family affair for Garcia, who's fighter, unbeaten Erik Ruiz goes for 7-0 at Florentine Gardens Friday night.  That family vibe is also what he recreates with his many fighters, now that he is one of boxing's most sought-after trainers. lead writer Chris Strait sat down with Garcia for a brief Q and A, and found out why he is far more at home in the corner, than he was in the ring.

Q: How did you get the nickname Grandpa?  You're not the oldest member of your boxing family.
A: (laughs) I am actually one of the youngest.  I have been in boxing so long, they were always calling me that.  Since I was 5 years old, i have been in the gym, and a lot of fighters come and go.  When they would see that I was always still there, no matter how long they were away, they told me, "you've been here so long, you're like the Grandpa of the gym"... because I was so old in boxing.

Q: You've actually said that you were more meant to be a trainer than a fighter.  That is the kind of thing we are used to hearing from clubfighters who end their career with an 11-8 mark.  What would make a former world champion say that?
A: Well I was always around the sport my whole life, because of my father.  I didn't play any other sports, or anything.  I was just in it, because it was all I knew, not because I had any special passion to be a fighter.  Then, when I started working with fighters, and traveling with them, it opened up a whole new world.  When you are fighting and you go places, you are so focused on being a fighter, you don't notice any of the surroundings.  When I went back as a trainer, and was more comfortable, I had time to see everything.  That's what triggered my passion.

Q: Who is probably the best fighter in your family?
A: Mikey (Garcia) probably has the most talent, and boxing intelligence.  He hasn't accomplished what I have yet, to be a world champion, but hopefully soon.

Q: You are one of the most in-demand trainers in boxing.  How do you select which fighters to work with?
A: I am not at that point yet, where I need to turn them down.  I have around 20 fighters now.  If they are willing to work, and take it seriously, I will give them a chance.  I have had some people (not gonna mention names, but some pretty good fighters) say they are going to come work with us, and then don't follow through.

Q: What is the allure of Oxnard?  Everybody seems to want to train there, lately.
A: For us, it was just where we were from, but I think what brought guys like Sergio, and Maidana, is the climate is never too hot or too cold.  We have beaches and mountains for running.  It is a small town, relaxed, there's no media and unnecessary people hanging around the gyms.  People can concentrate and get to work.  We're an hour from L.A., so everything is available to you, but you can still come here, and have all the space and time you need.

One of your fighters, Kelly Pavlik, has a big assignment coming up against Andre Ward.  How do you prepare for a fight like that, where is going to be an underdog?
A: We have to be realistic.  We're not in denial.  Andre Ward is one of the best fighters in the world.  But if Kelly stays in the gym - he's supposed to come in after Christmas - our conditioning coach gets everybody in the best shape.  Kelly has the tools to pull it off.  He has the heart, power, and a good chin.  Aftert that, it's just about me developing the game plan.  We're concentraing on studying Mikey's fight with Salido now, but I will concentrate on Ward after that.

Q: That was my next question.  Mikey's looked so good, but against a wily veteran like Salido, how do you approach that?
A: The key is using the right sparring partners, and concentration.  Salido is very tricky.  Mikey has to keep his focus at every second... don't get distracted by the crowd, or anything else.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, and good luck in upcoming fights.
A: Thank you.

Chris Strait

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