Lem Satterfield

“Den Mother” Spivey inspired by love for Roach in HBO series


RingTV.com: What about the celebrities?

MS: High-profile celebrities, and even high-profile boxers that come in here, they understand that it’s Freddie’s gym. One of the reasons that Freddie’s so successful as a business owner is that he treats others with respect.
As long as people return the favor, there’s not a problem.

I tell people, sometimes when they come in here with the attitude where they feel they need to be the center of attention, and they need a lot of people catering to them, they don’t last long here. That’s just not the way things are run here in the gym.

The celebrities, I don’t treat them differently. I treat members the same as I treat Freddie’s boxers. If they act with respect, they get treated with respect. But everyone’s so friendly here, that it’s like a giant family. It’s really not a problem.

RingTV.com: What was involved with the scene when you were complaining about dirty towels on the floor?

MS: What’s funny is that I had asked them and requested of them, “could you take that out please?” No one realizes that for that past two weeks, I had been asking the guys to help me to clean up the towels. 

I’ll put the gloves on, and I’ll walk around and pick up the towels and clean up the gym of trash and towels that has been left ion corners for, like, I’m talking for days and days.

That’s gross. So I was like, “guys, if you see a towel hanging behind a chair for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, then obviously, it’s been left there. Just pick it up and throw it into the towel baskets.”

When it’s lying around, it’s gross. So I’m like, “help me out guys,” and they’re like, “sure.” They were there for two weeks. But not only did I do it, but I just did it on my own.

So, they caught me on a day where I walked into the shower, and lo and behold, there are towels that I saw there two days ago that were still sitting in that corner.

And it was disgusting. So that’s what that was all about. Some people here call me “The Den Mother,” but I take that as a compliment. Sometimes, they’re just plain lazy and they just don’t want to deal with it.

I tsay on them for it. Part of what I’ve learned from working at this gym is that you can’t be too passive or overly nice. That’s not going to do you any good.

Maybe that scene wasn’t as respectful as I could have been, and it may have been more like mom yelling at the kids to get this done. But it is what it is.

RingTV.com: How much of your desire to do your job is from the way you care for Freddie, personally?

MS: As far as how much is my ability to do my job driven by how much I care for Freddie? All of it. I do work hard because I care so much about him. It is difficult to watch him have to go through his routines and his appointments because I have great love and concern for Freddie.

I have to take care of every responsibility that I have in order to make his life easier and his job easier. Through all of this, I just want him to be happy and to be able to enjoy his life and every moment of his life.

RingTV.com: Knowing that his disease can only get worse, and that you have been around him longer than anyone else, how is that for you?

MS: It’s difficult. It’s always difficult. We’ve spoken about it recently, and it’s emotional. If anything, I’m just happy that I am here to be able to be with him.


RingTV.com: Do you care, deep down, what reporters and media members and people who are trying to schedule Freddie’s time think of you?

MS: At the end of the day, you and I both know that I have to bury that and do my job. My responsibilities have to be my priority. It’s not what they think of me and what makes them happy, but what Freddie thinks of me and what makes him happy.

I’m hear to take care of my responsibilities for Freddie. But do I care what they think of me? Sometimes, I do. I wish that I could help everyone. I wish that everyone could be accommodated, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

You’re dealing with Freddie Roach, and there are only so many hours in the day and there’s only so much time that Freddie has. I try to be as polite as possible when the answer is that unfortunately, there’s just not time to do this interview.

Or we can’t accommodate you. But they’re not always happy, so when that happens, and they’re not happy, they criticize me, which is often the case. I get that. But it’s not always easy to ignore that sometimes. A lot of people don’t know me and they believe what they read, and there’s nothing that you can do about that.

RingTV.com: How was it overall watching yourself portrayed in an HBO reality series?

MS: It was uncomfortable. I value my privacy a tremendous amount. You are well aware of the criticism that I get just by the nature of my job and the nature of my responsibilities. So it’s uncomfortable on so many levels.

You’re seeing yourself, and you’re saying, “what am I going to be criticized for next?” So I’m losing a little bit of my privacy now.

But to the HBO crew, Peter Berg and all of the people that worked with Freddie, this project could not have been in better hands.

I thought that they shot it beautifully and they maintained by far beyond my expectations, the integrity of Freddie’s day-to-day life. That includes everybody around him.


Photo courtesy of Film 44

Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.

Photo courtesy of Film 44

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com



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