Lem Satterfield

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

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You don’t get through the doors of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., unless you deal with Marie Spivey.

Spivey is known as “The Den Mother” for her role as gym manager of the United States’ most widely known boxing facility — a venue that has been made famous by the planet’s most widely-known boxer, Manny Pacquiao, and which is owned by his trainer, Freddie Roach.

Want an interview with Roach? Talk to Spivey. Gym membership? Spivey. Violate the venue’s protocol, and it most likely Spivey who is going to be the one who shows you the exit. 

“My responsibilities have to be my priority,” said Spivey, 38, who was born in Inchon, South Korea, adopted at nine days old and became a naturalized American citizen two days later.

“It’s not what they think of me and what makes them happy, but what Freddie thinks of me and what makes him happy.”

Media members have come to recognize Spivey as Roach’s dark-haired female assistant. They know her as the woman whose job it is to schedule time with the his five-time Trainer of the Year, and who is most often the first to let them know when their interview time is up — sometimes, abruptly.

“I’m here to take care of my responsibilities for Freddie. But do I care what they think of me?” asked Spivey, who is half-Korean and half Chinese.

“Sometimes, I do. I wish that I could help everyone. I wish that everyone could be accomodated. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world.”

Spivey will be introduced to the nation during HBO’s initial running of “On Freddie Roach,” a reality series which debuts on Friday and chronicles the trainer’s daily life and routines on camera.

The first show displays a softer side to Spivey, who not only doubles as the general caretaker for the 51-year-old former boxer who endures Parkinson’s disease resulting from his pugilistic past, but who is often the first to catch his wrath when he’s in a foul mood.

During one scene, the concern can be read in Spivey’s eyes as Roach undergoes a painful treatment for his debilitating disease while lying on a hospital bed.

“It’s been a very long relationship. She’s works hard, she won’t steal from me, and that’s why she’s my assistant,” said Roach of Spivey, his ex-girlfriend.

“She has a hard job though, because if something goes wrong, then she’s going to get it from me. She’s the one that’s closest to me, and if I’m in a bad mood, that’s usually who gets the bad end of it.”

 

RingTV.com: Where did you grow up and go to school?

Marie Spivey: I grew up a little bit everywhere. My father was in the Navy, at the time. I was adopted. So we spent the first year of my life I believe in Florida.Then, first through sixth grade was in Seoul, South Korea.

From then on, I was in Arizona. I graduated from high school in Arizona and went to the University of Arizona. I studied geological engineering and mining, with a minor in mineralogy.

RingTV.com: Did you end up doing anything in your field?

MS: [Laughs.] No.

RingTV.com: How would you describe your different job responsibilities?

MS: How would I describe them? You want a list of everything that I do?

RingTV.com: Pretty much, can you do that?

MS: [Laughs.] You know, it goes all the way from if it’s to go and get the guys a coffee, I’ll go and get the coffee. All the way from that to organizing the paperwork to helping Freddie with his appointments and his interviews.

Driving from appointment to appointment. Gym manager. Personal assistant. That pretty much covers it. That’s the broad spectrum of my responsibilities.

RingTV.com: What does it entail to manage a gym with guys coming in who are training under Freddie, you have Manny Pacquiao and you have movie stars and professional athletes and other celebrities?

MS: It’s making sure people who are coming in are signed up correctly. A lot of people come in for information on the gym, so that could involve explaining to them the rules, policies and procedures.

It could involve making sure that the parking lot is organized and in good order and nobody’s hitting anybody. We share the lot with a couple of businesses, so you want to make sure that, out of courtesy, we keep those vacancies for those businesses.

We have [security specialist] Rob Peters,  and how thankful we are for Rob. He helps us run the front and the parking lot. He helps the gym run smoothly and is a very important part of the Wild Card family. There are so many things, including picking up trash and cleaning up towels around the gym.

Making sure the bills are paid, and making sure that any problems that people are having in the gym, that those problems are addressed.There are quarrels that break out, and sometimes, I have to mediate those. Once in a while, someone gets out of line, then it’s my responsibility to ask them to leave the gym. You know, there is a lot.

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