Buddy McGirt Senior On What Makes A Great Boxing Trainer

By James Slater - James “Buddy” McGirt, the former light-welterweight and welterweight champion, began training amateur fighters even while he was still plying his trade in the ring. Eventually, after hanging up the gloves in 1997, McGirt made the transition into training full-time.

Becoming known and respected as one of the best young trainers on the scene, Buddy worked with top names such as the late Arturo Gatti, Paulie Malignaggi and Antonio Tarver. McGirt says the transition from fighter to trainer was never easy, but that time he spent around legendary old time trainers from a golden era proved invaluable. Some critics may say McGirt, who has certainly had his share of bad luck, with some of his bigger-name fighters losing, is not a great trainer - but it cannot be denied that Buddy is at the least a very fine trainer. Personally, I’d rank McGirt as such due solely to his great work with the late Gatti.

But what does McGirt himself feel makes a good/great trainer?

A while back I had the pleasure of asking him:

“Number one: you can’t baby a fighter,” McGirt said. “You cannot pamper a fighter. The thing is, the trainer should be the boss. This is how it used to be. But today, too many fighters call the shots. Guys like Futch and Arcel, and also George Benton - if they told the fighter to do something, the fighter did it. If a fighter argued or refused to follow orders, they walked away and never looked back. So I’d say respecting your trainer is a must. Take no shit! For example, my first trainer, Dominick, if he’d told me to stand on my head for an hour, I’d have done it.”

“But another thing you must have is patience: you must be patient with each fighter. Futch really taught me this. Not every guy can pick things up so quickly; they need time to adjust. You cannot expect every guy to develop at the same pace - some fighters adapt quicker.

“Never make excuses or accept excuses. Like if a guy doesn’t want to spar, or he doesn’t want to fight a certain opponent. So many fighters today make excuses - they say, “I don’t want to fight that guy, he’s too tall.” Excuses like that can’t be tolerated. Excuses from boxers to get out of training or to get out fighting a certain opponent turn my stomach. And the trainer is making excuses himself if he allows his fighter to get out of something he doesn’t want to do.

“Loyalty seems to be harder to come by from a fighter these days. What does a fighter do if he loses? He fires the trainer and gets himself a new one. That leaves the original trainer, the guy who invested time and money and interest in him, with nothing. The older fighter from years gone by never did that to Eddie Futch or Ray Arcel.”

“A fighter should never question what the trainer says. Doing that is disrespectful. I think the game has changed a lot today, in that there are too many fighters who are in charge, who do the training they want to do and no more. There was way more discipline years ago. The trainer was the boss, which is how it should always be.”

Article posted on 29.02.2012

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