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
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
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
Robert Garcia discusses his life, his career
and his remarkable stable of boxers
on The Ringside Boxing Show.
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.
to contact Irish Joe O'Rourke