Freddie Roach: Family Matters

Amit ChauhanCorrespondent INovember 29, 2008

Whilst glancing through articles on this forum recently, I came across a piece that described Freddie Roach as going "from a gentleman, to a roughneck."

The article continued by stating that the author once had respect for Roach, but it dissipated due to his lack of professionalism.

Most of this was aimed at Roach speaking out about Oscar De la Hoya to media outlets and how once fighters part ways, there should be a mutual respect.

To see all the angles of any story you most travel a full journey.

So let us start at the beginning.

Freddie Roach was destined to be a boxer. As a young child his father, Paul Roach, introduced Freddie to boxing at a very young age. His first fight was at the age of six—his first tournament was when he was eight years old.

“My father lived through us. He was a fighter; he wanted us to be fighters. It was part of life in the Roach household.” – Freddie Roach

This type of pressure forged roach into the image his father wanted. His father was also very physical with him, he would beat the children who didn’t choose to fight more than the kids that did.

Maybe this fear of disappointing his father went some way to explain his boxing style when he turned professional.

He was a wild swinger, a crowd-pleaser, and he would take a punch to give two.

This style would contribute to the disease that Roach would later suffer from, trauma induced Parkinson’s disease.

Roaches career ended at the age of 26, after a broken hand and a string of losses.

After his early retirement, Roach’s former trainer, Eddie Futch, offered Freddie a lifeline as his assistant trainer. Freddie excelled in this position and this led to him training a string of champions.

Being that his star pupil is Manny Pacquiao, his next bout has the elements of a soap opera.

When Freddie trains fighters, not only does he look after them professionally, but they become family members. It is this extended family and sense of honor that Roach is very protective over.

When Roach trained Oscar De La Hoya, he was told by Oscar that he was irreplaceable—that Oscar would never fight without him. For Roach, it is this kind of bond that is very important to him.

So it hurt Roach when Oscar dumped him after his loss to Floyd Mayweather Junior. He felt that the extended family concept had been abused, and for a man who comes from such a turbulent upbringing, this was important.

In Pacquiao, Roach gets the father-son bond he craves; he also gets to see some demons exorcised in his next fight.

In the lead up to this fight, Roach has stated that De La Hoya can’t pull the trigger and that he has the gameplan to beat him.

Maybe he is guilty of not separating work relationships from personal. However, this doesn’t make him a “roughneck,” it just makes him human.

The only thing Roach is guilty for is getting too attached to his fighters, but if to care about another human being is wrong then (in movie fashion) I don’t want to be right.


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