Irish Joe O’Rourke

of The Boxing Amusement Park

Garcia never fell in love with boxing until he began teaching it




The former super featherweight king

stopped punching at age 26,

then found greater purpose as a trainer


   Norman Mailer once defined boxing as ''the exclusion of outside influence.'' If this is true, then gaining entry into the Oxnard Boxing Academy is the kind of experience from which one can truly feel privileged.

 Greater still, gaining insight into the life and character of its owner, trainer, and former world champion, Robert Garcia, is the kind of experience one can never forget.


     Every great boxing trainer has qualities you remember: The wit and wisdom of Cus D'Amato; the gentility and grace of Emanuel Steward; even the explosiveness of Lou Duva. But once inside the Oxnard Boxing Academy, it becomes overtly clear that no one in this gym remains untouched by the strength of Robert Garcia's character. The ease with which he moves in this realm and the respect he commands catches one's attention more than any of the elite fighters present. It is here that Garcia employs a sort of moral departure from street life.


The laughter is non-stop, and the occasional vulgaries are set aside when children are present, almost as if the language of disrespect could excite unseen forces better kept outside its walls. Amid the

melody of punching bags and sparring-induced steamy air, it is Garcia who stands alone as the biggest force in a facility that manufactures big forces.



            Robert's father, Eduardo Senior, instilled in his son the kind of discipline that would carry him all the way to the lightweight championship.


 But if winning the lightweight championship was the fulfillment of his father's dream, then the creation of the Oxnard Boxing Academy was the fulfillment of Robert's. The facility returned to him the full measure of his youth and now serves to train some the world's greatest fighters. If the profile of this gym had been lying low its first few years, then names like Rios, Margarito and Donaire have done much to put an end to that.


            But the life of any man of merit must include a difficult chapter, and Garcia is no exception. Not far from his present life lies a past defined by a pivotal moment. It was during his heyday as lightweight champ that he came to find he didn't enjoy hurting people, a revelation that contributed to a youthful retirement.


Robert Garcia discusses his life, his career
and his remarkable stable of boxers
on The Ringside Boxing Show.
CLICK HERE to listen to the interview:


     Most would think it odd that a fighter who came to this conclusion would choose training as his true calling. But for those with boxing in their DNA, this sport is perhaps a lifelong journey. In 2001, at the ripe old age of 26, Robert called it quits as a pro, and the always uncertain experience of ending one career and beginning another created a void in him so large it took the creation of a world-class boxing facility to fill. The part of him that was once so at odds with the lightweight championship became part of a past whose truer purpose was to prepare him for the role as one of the most sought-after trainers in the world.


  The hole in Garcia's life created something greater than the sum of his belts, and having moved through the transition from fighter to trainer, he found greater fame and fortune. That success mercifully erases any and all sense of regret. If he is aware of his celebrity, he is not in the least fazed by it, and with the possible exception of a few rival trainers, everyone loves Robert.


Apart from his past, what remains is a life that fits the role of trainer beautifully. A youth spent boxing in the nearby La Colonia gym feuled a fire that has grown to a full-blown inferno as a trainer.


            If work can be regarded as an expression of life, Garcia has lived in a big way. His life stands as an assertion of strength. When terrible socioeconomic circumstances breed horrible conditions, good and strong people are called upon to act as corner men for  the world's dispossessed. Some feel this is Garcia's greatest role. 


CLICK HERE to contact Irish Joe O'Rourke

Other columns by "Irish" Joe O'Rourke
Loyalties to the Dead
Ricky Hatton's quandary
Ambassadors of Hope: The Rock Boxing Gym
Cuban Libre: An effigy to the human spirit

An unwanted visitor

A eulogy for Vernon
 Moneyweather talks ... disinformation walks
Of Hurricanes & Aftermaths



Irish Joe O’Rourke

Born and raised on the Eastern
Seaboard, Irish Joe O'Rourke is a
lifelong boxing aficionado who
now writes about the sport from
his home on the picturesque
Central Coast of California.

CLICK HERE to contact him