There are two good reasons to drive 60 miles north of Los Angeles to Oxnard. One is to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The other is to pay homage and visit with one of the top boxing trainers of our day, Robert Garcia.
Now, he’s probably never been on a tractor, but for the past eight years, Garcia has been cultivating some of the best pugilistic products in the world.
His father, Eduardo, first plowed these fertile boxing fields with the world famous La Colonia Boxing Club. Now, his son Robert has branched out with his own Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.”
And, Garcia is reaping even more bountiful rewards these days. When we caught up with him he had just returned from Atlantic City where he worked his first television analyst job. His assignment was for HBO Latino. So perhaps he’s becoming the next Emanuel Steward – trainer extraordinaire and future television star.
But while on this farming theme, allow us to get back to the roots, which we do in this month’s edition of “Trainer’s Corner.” On display in this latest video feature are the articulation, commitment, knowledge, and passion Garcia has for boxing.
But he wasn’t always this way. He retired as a professional boxer at the young age of 26. This came after capturing the IBF 130- title and making two defenses. By the way, he lost that belt to the now legendary Diego Corrales. But why did he walk away?
He was sick of it.
“When I first started as a pro, I practically lived at Big Bear,” says Garcia, referring to the mountain area east of Los Angeles which allows fighters to work about a mile above sea level. “I was fighting under Oscar De La Hoya’s management company and my father (Eduardo) was a very strict trainer. For two months leading up to a fight, no distractions, no phone calls. In the one month leading up to a fight, no visitors. It was like being in prison. This was especially tough in the early days when I was fighting four- and five-rounders. I was fighting five, six, seven times in one year, so I was always training.”
So, even though he had many years left to compete at the top level and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, Garcia hung ‘em up. And he is grateful his family supported his decision.
Then he began a new chapter. He was an enlightened former fighter who knew there must be a better way.
Much to the chagrin and amid the skepticism of veteran and learned trainers, Garcia opens his camps to wives, family, friends, kids and even dogs. He says he has found contrary to the old school beliefs that conjugal relations with a female will make fighters’ “legs rubbery,” his protégés come back invigorated after a healthy night of horizontal sparring.
Garcia believes he has debunked the theory that fighters will run out of stamina in the ring if they go a few rounds with their mates as much as two weeks before a fight.
He may be to boxing what Phil Jackson was to basketball. Jackson and his “Zen Master” persona promulgated the idea that one allows athletes to make their own personal decisions. If those athletes are allowed to think and behave under their own recognizance, the great ones will make the right decisions. And the right decisions equal winning. A coach is not a baby sitter. He’s a coach and mentor, pure and simple.
But I won’t give away the entire “Trainer’s Corner” for this month. Watch the video interview. You’re going to enjoy listening to Robert Garcia.
Photo / Kevin Lee-Getty Images
Alan Massengale is an Emmy award-winning sports caster, who has done hundreds broadcasts for boxing, his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter @AlanMassengale1