Boxing: The “Roach Factor”

Freddie RoachBy Ted Sares: Freddie Roach has had many fine accomplishments and molding Manny Pacquiao from a less-than-multi-dimensional, albeit superb fighter, into a fully-armed killing machine is his greatest. Manny now fights using either hand from different angles and with foot speed that keeps his opponents grasping and gasping. He can knockout his foes with one punch from either hand and seems to be getting even stronger as he moves up in weight and wrecks havoc the likes of which we have not seen in many a year.

Frederick "Freddie" Roach grew up in the tough Projects in Dedham, MA in a well-known boxing family and launched a professional career in which he paid dearly for staying on too long. Most of his fights were held in Nevada. His record was 40-13 but he finished badly. He went 13-12 in the last part of his career after streaking out of the gate with a 26-1 mark. Then after a number of menial jobs in Las Vegas, he began his apprenticeship by taking on an unpaid job with his former trainer and mentor, the immortal Eddie Futch, in 1986. He took to the job like a duck to water and learned his craft the way a skilled mason does, stone by stone..

Freddie Roach has since emerged as one of the premier trainers in boxing and his Wild Card Gym in Loa Angeles has become THE place for boxers. He now trains Manny, Amir Kahn, Julio César Chávez Jr., and the extremely promising Jose Benavidez, among others, and is building for the future. The "Roach Factor" has become a real positive for Freddie's charges.

The "Roach Factor"

A fighter under Freddie Roach’s wings gets the benefit of his protective and sage counsel during training and between rounds during the fight. When the great Gerry Penalosa (55-8-1) was being pummeled by Juan Manuel Lopez in 2009, Freddie, using what he had learned from Eddie Futch, forced a halt to the action in what could only be called a compassionate stoppage. It was the first time “Fearless” had been stopped, but it was done with dignity.
Roach also has an uncanny ability to make matches. Some might call it “cherry picking” or worse, but whatever it is, it works very well, since Manny Pacquiao, more often than not, seems to be at the right place at the right time in the ring..

Another element in the package is Roach’s street-smart ability to play head games with both his fighter’s opponent and the opposing camp. Who can forget when he, Manny, Antonio Margarito, and Robert Garcia were being interviewed, and Freddie informed Tony that Manny would “destroy him?” The bespectacled Margarito, through a translator, replied something to the effect, “How do you know this? Do you know something I don’t know? Do you think I have an injury?” With a deadpanned face and unblinking eyes, Roach looked at him for several seconds and then said, “I saw your last two fights.” The look on Tony’s face said it all.

Another thing he brings to his fighters is the high-tech and very competitive environment of his Wild Card Boxing Club/Gym which can only help with their development. When you train with the best, some of it is bound to rub off.
Now some might contend that when Amir Khan foolishly decided to brawl with Marcos Maidana on December 11, 2010, the “Roach Factor” went out the window. If so, then that is further proof of its effectiveness.

Oh yes, sometimes his left arm trembles and he is easily fatigued. Sometimes, his speech is slurred, but he hasn’t let it impede him, as he copes without complaint. Freddie suffers from incurable trauma-induced Parkinson’s disease, but that has not stopped him from winning the following awards:

Induction into the World Boxing Hall of Fame -- Managers and Trainers.
Induction into the 2006 California Boxing Hall of Fame - Non-Boxer.
Recipient of 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009 Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year
Recipient of the 2008 World Boxing Council (WBC) "Lifetime Achievement Award
Freddie Roach is a sweet but unyielding man in a dangerous and often dirty business. Boxing and Freddie are synonymous.

Visit the author’s uniquely interesting web site at

Article posted on 04.01.2011

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