Joseph Santoliquito

Inside Team Garcia – part I

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During a two-day span in August RingTV.com writer Joseph Santoliquito was imbedded with Danny Garcia and his team as they prepped for the Brooklyn, New York press conference announcing his rematch against Erik Morales. Here is part one of Santoliquito’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of what transpired.

 

It’s Wednesday evening in late August, just past nightfall, as kids play up and down the narrow dead-end, tree-lined street where Danny Garcia lives.

The junior welterweight champion of the world inhabits a nice split-level home nestled in a comfortable, suburban area about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia.

The neighbors don’t recognize Garcia right away when he steps outside of his home to embark on a road trip to New York, where he will be the main focus of a major press conference.

He was practically anonymous to the families living across the street until the night he arrived after his signature victory over Amir Khan on July 14. Now everyone on the block knows him, as does the boxing world.

Garcia’s beautiful single home has an in-ground pool in the back and it’s adorned with huge pictures of his family. When he bought the house, he chose to move his mother, father and twin sisters in with him. Call them the “inner Team Garcia.”

Being inside Team Garcia, you soon discover that while he may be the world champion, the one who has raised his name and brand in international boxing circles, it’s his father, Angel, who’s the “star.” Father and son sporadically butt heads, but only because they’re so alike, akin to two magnets that repel each other when they get near.

In the end, though, Garcia always succumbs to his father’s wishes out of deference and respect, but mostly out of love. He’s a good looking 24-year-old pro boxer is still very much the dutiful and humble son.

The only added luxury he’s indulged himself with is the sporty, white Camaro he bought with the extra $50,000 he was paid when Erik Morales came in overweight for their first fight in March.

Angel Garcia, unbending iron rod that everyone at Harrowgate Gym in gritty North Philly gravitates towards, also has a humble side. It’s not beneath him to fill the water bottles there between sessions with Danny, or to pick up the punch mitts and work out with a 9-year old boy while demonstrating proper punch technique.

But make no mistake. The father is the core of Team Garcia. He’s tireless in his pursuit of what he thinks is right and won’t stop until he reaches that destination. Presently, his everything is his son, who holds THE RING, WBC and WBA 140-pound titles, and everything is going right.

During a two-day span before late-August press conference, Danny took phone interviews from the Philippines, Germany, London, Puerto Rico, and major cities including Chicago and New York. Sadly, the Philadelphia sports media, which seems stuck on Mike Tyson’s heavyweight title reign and Bernard Hopkins’ victory over Felix Trinidad 11 years ago, was missing from the long list of interview requests.

Angel is agitated and baffled by the lack of local attention his son receives. Danny doesn’t seem bothered by it. Nothing seems to bother him. He’s very well adjusted, a trait shared by all four of Angel’s children.

He made sure of that. He also made sure his children wouldn’t live the hard life he did. It’s a sense you have, and how protective he is about Danny. Despite his son’s success, Garica hasn’t quit his day job delivering auto parts.

He only has one speed — and that’s go-go-go, all the time, everywhere. It’s where we picked up on a Wednesday night as Team Garcia congealed to embark for Brooklyn, New York for the kick-off press conference for Garcia’s Oct. 20 title defense against Morales.

The contracted rematch with the Mexican legend will top a highly anticipated Showtime-televised quadrupleheader that marks the first boxing event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

9:45 p.m.: Angel is packing his son’s championship belts in a backpack on the polished oak steps leading to the living room of Danny’s spacious Bensalem, Penn. home. He is meticulous in almost everything he does, careful in this case to put a towel in-between the three belts so one doesn’t scratch the other. He’s waiting on Danny, who has gone to Philadelphia to pick up his bodyguard, “Hip-Hop,” a Pennsylvania law enforcement officer and Hopkins’ longtime bodyguard. Danny may be the only world champion who picks up his bodyguard, instead of his bodyguard picking up him.

9:56 p.m.: Angel is excited about this trip to Brooklyn, for the press conference announcing Danny’s rematch with Morales to open the Barclay’s Center in the first boxing event held there. He’s so anxious that he can’t sit still while he waits for his son to return. His wife and 11-year-old twin daughters are whirling around, and Angel tells the energetic girls (wonder where they get it from?) to not push open the screen door with their hands because it smudges the window. He snatches a towel and spritzes Windex on the door’s glass. He goes over what his son will wear at the photo shoot following the Morales press conference, and makes sure the clothes are appropriate for the media gathering at the Marriot New York at Brooklyn Bridge the next day.

10:09 p.m.: Danny arrives and the whole gang is ready – an entourage of five: Koz, Danny’s friend, Erik, Danny’s older brother, Hip-Hop and Angel fill the six-seat, champagne-colored Suburban and off they go to NYC.

10:12 p.m.: But first, Team Garcia goes on a gas quest. They finally find an A-Plus Sunoco as Danny is immersed in his cell phone, tweeting to his 23,000 followers, which includes fans, friends, and assorted butt-kissing boxing media who never paid attention to him before – but do now.

10:18 p.m.: Angel is a man full of tales. “I like chilling in the back, it’s a long ride and it gives me time to sit back and relax,” he says. It’s a rare time he ever relaxes.

“My dad can’t leave the house without fixing something,” Danny says. “I’m like, ‘Come on dad let’s go,’ and he’s like, ‘Wait, I gotta clean the house.’ He’s like that in the gym, too. I’m more like my dad. We’re both outgoing and silly. The big difference is my father will say what’s on his mind. I won’t. I keep a lot of things in.”

10:23 p.m.: A woman sends Danny a text featuring a YouTube link with Angel going nuts prior to the Khan fight. Danny shares it to the chorus of laughs from the car. The video includes a montage of Danny and the Khan knockout.

“A lot of people call me the green-eyed killer now because of what I said after the Khan fight; maybe it’s why I don’t get enough credit, because I’m a pretty-boy green-eyed killer,” Danny says while laughing.

10:28 p.m.: As most of Team Garcia talks about Danny’s fights this year, Angel is backseat driving, telling Koz to beware of the brake lights on the car in front of him. Danny laughs and says, “That’s Angel at his best.”

10:50 p.m.: Team Garcia is a jovial bunch, but Angel is the preacher.

“I don’t like when people stress.” He says. “That’s why I think we are the way we are. Everyone has a destiny in life. You have to believe in the Big Man, he’s the one that blesses you; you sweat and make money—that’s blessed money. It’s why blood money is voodoo—black magic. It’s why drug dealers die—it’s not blessed money. It doesn’t last. It’s why $200 goes a long way. You work from 6-to-6 and make a $1.25 a day when they’re institutionalized. It’s why America is the way it is today. Look at reality. A single mother on public assistance needs that. They give three consecutive life sentences to a child molester and he gets public assistance. They’re paid for by the government. They should kill him. It’s why you need blue-collar workers like me who pay taxes. We’re the ones that keep this country going.”

11:01 p.m.: Angel continues to hold court while Danny is immersed in insta-gramming. Danny makes sure to turn around and warn Hip-Hop, “My dad is going to put you to sleep.”

11:18 p.m.: Angel, still going, is now talking about Saddam Hussein.

“Hussein did one thing right—you do something wrong in that country, your ass was in jail over there,” he says. “Our fight with him, though, got us nothing. It put us $80-trillion in debt and we got nothing out of it—and we’re rebuilding their country. What did we get out of it? Nothing. The truth is the truth.”

He stops … “I have to watch that GPS, it may have a bug in it and the secret service will come after us. We’re probably going to be political prisoners at Danny’s press conference tomorrow.”

The whole team laughs. 

11:27 p.m.: Angel is still going strong, relaying a story of a friend’s son going to work at 3:30 in the morning on his 90th day for SEPTA, the day he was going to be certified. The friend’s son witnessed a murder and the killer wheeled around on a bike and kills him too.

“They never found his killer and they found the cop killer [who killed a Philadelphia policeman],” Angel says steamed. “Nothing against finding the cop killer. What makes me mad is they never found the killer of my friend’s son. The case went cold and they never put in the resources to find his killer. A life is a life. I feel some kind of way about that. Something ever happened to any of my kids and that would never end. I would go out myself and kill the killer.”

11:34 p.m.: Danny and Angel argue about what direction to take to Brooklyn. Angel doesn’t trust the GPS.

“I’m old school; I trust signs,” he says.

“I just sit back and listen to my dad all of the time,” Danny says. “No, he’s not into the technology stuff.”

11:38 p.m.: The fumes of the New Jersey Turnpike begin to permeate the car. It’s a combination of toxic waste, dead bodies and skunks, someone jokes. Now Angel is in full froth. He’s touched on everything from current affairs, to politics and now, finally, to boxing. Nothing escapes Angel’s wrath, including a very popular fighter and a hall-of-fame trainer.

11:48 p.m.: The Garcias met Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas at one of Floyd Mayweather’s fights. They like him, personally, but Angel has his opinion of the unbeaten junior middleweight titleholder.

“Alvarez has a following and a fanbase, but he’s overrated, and I’m looking at him as a boxing fan,” Angel says. “They say he’s 5-foot-9, and how can he be 5-9, when I’m 5-8 looking down on him. He is an overrated bum, and the truth hurts. It’s one thing about me, I will never lie. He’s over protected, and they’re trying to make him Oscar De La Hoya. How is he going to be Oscar De La Hoya and he’s not even a good-looking guy. Hey, Oscar at least looks like Tom Jones. They throw panties in the ring for him. He’s not funny-looking like Alvarez. He has no attitude or personality.

“And I like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., I just think he’s wasting his time with Freddie Roach. Roach sucks. He’s wasting his talent. His fighters have it twisted. He works for them. Roach thinks the fighters work for him. There is a lot of bulls__t going on in the boxing world and we need to straighten this s__t out. I’m going to be that man. I’m not ashamed to tell people to their face. There are questions about Manny Pacquiao, too. I never saw anyone like Pacquiao running on a treadmill the night before his fight [against Tim Bradley]. There’s something fishy about that.  You save the fighter’s legs. You don’t burn them out. I’m a coach and I see things. I train Danny and I can’t even figure out how to beat him. He changes every fight. But that comes from the way he is trained”

alt11:59 p.m.: Danny just nods his heads with a smile as the rest of Team Garcia is laughing. Danny knows his father. Angel was accused of deflecting attention away from Danny prior to his fight with Amir Khan.

“There’s no deflecting, that’s the way he is,” Danny says, grinning, to no one in particular. “People think my father does stuff for the camera and promotional things, and this is my father for real. To regular people in the street and people in are home, that’s the way he is.”

12:32 a.m.: Angel is finally slowing down. His sons, Erik and Danny, are very soft-spoken, polar opposites of their father.

“I almost lost my voice five years ago with throat cancer,” Angel says. “God gave me my voice back, so I could be heard. I was Stage Four throat cancer and lived through a feeding tube for two years. I drank Ensure for two years. I never gave up. I never gave up. I’m a fighter.”

Danny laughs, “He wasn’t this bad before the cancer. I guess my dad just gets fed up with all the bulls__t in boxing. He got this way over the years.”

1:10 a.m.: Team Garcia reaches Brooklyn and the luxurious Marriott New York at The Brooklyn Bridge. It turns out that Danny is a great impressionist. He has Hip-Hop’s walk nailed, hunching his shoulder forward, with an exaggerated swinging arm motion making each step like a caveman. Danny walks right behind the ever-protective Hip-Hop, who takes point in leading Team Garcia to their rooms. When he catches the young fighter’s imitation out of the corner of his eye, he playfully bear hugs him. As Hip-Hop leads the group through the winding halls of the Marriott, Danny can’t help himself, positioning himself behind Hip-Hop again and mimicking his walk.

“I can pretty much imitate anyone,” the champ reveals with a sly grin. “I can do my dad, my brother, the way they walk and talk. It keeps things loose.” 

1:40 a.m.: A long night ends at a local diner in Brooklyn called Carroll Garden’s Classic Diner. Team Garcia fills a back table on the final stop of this pre-press conference night. If Team Garcia is anything, it’s certainly a loose bunch. Other than talking boxing, current affairs and past fighters, their style and what makes them enjoyable to be around is that they love to laugh at everything. And no one is safe. They poke fun at everyone, even the bug-eyed ways a certain visitor with them has in expressing himself along with over-the-top hand gestures.

 

 

In part two of this two-part feature, Santoliquito recounts Garcia’s private Showtime video shoot at the world famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn following the press conference for the anticiapted Oct. 20 card at Barclays Center.

 

Pjotos / Naoki Fukuda, Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions

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