Weighing in: An Impromptu Q & A Session with Robert Ferguson

07.07.06 - by John Howard: If you're not obsessed with the sport of boxing, you probably won't recognize the name Robert Ferguson. Robert is a weight loss and wellness "guru" and is recognized in the boxing world for his work with the sometimes "weighty" Fernando Vargas. In years past, Robert operated a local karate studio and taught rape prevention classes in the area. All in all, he's respected in the community as being a good guy, and after our brief conversation, I feel the same way about him..

In my area of Ventura County, CA., I recently ran into Robert at Starbucks, a place I like to call my office on many afternoons. Even though I'm having a venti frappacino with whip cream (398 calories) and a blueberry muffin (545 calories) it's all right. I don't have to "make weight" in order to write an article for East Side Boxing.

But to fight professionally you do. Why do some fighters have "issues" with the scale and others don't? Recently, Jose Luis Castillo caused a major uproar with his fight against Diego Corrales because he came into the weigh-in 4 1/2 lbs over the limit. He caused a much anticipated fight to be canceled, and cost some promoters and fans a lot of money and disappointment. I'm glad Corrales chose not to fight him. This unprofessionalism can't become a pattern.

Because of weight problems, James Toney has single-handedly ate his way up from the middleweight division to that of a heavyweight. Toney's not a heavyweight. He's surviving because the heavyweight division is weak. He's signed to fight Samuel Peter Sept. 2nd on Showtime. All 250 pounds of "The Nigerian Nightmare." Peter is a true heavyweight. This time Toney has bitten off more than he can chew.

Remember the sauna scene in Raging Bull? Jake La Motta (De Niro) exercising, trying to dry out in an attempt to cut weight. Brutal. Unnecessary. Are these fighters undisciplined? Lack of discipline doesn't seem to show up in other parts of their game. Why the problem at the scale?

Seems to me it would be much more sensible to eat right and get nutritional advice from a professional and keep yourself at a stable weight in-between fights. That old school mindset of ballooning up between fights, and then starving oneself during training camp is way out dated. That's easy for me to say, though.

At my office, in past discussions with other colleagues of mine, we've mulled over politics, Al Gore's global warming, music, history, etc. On several occasions we've even spent the entire afternoon discussing the phenomenon of high heels as it's related to a woman's shapeliness. But with Robert, today the topic is boxing!

To coincide with the upcoming Vargas/Mosley 2 fight, I wanted to get Robert's thoughts on the July 15th rematch. Robert, a very special thanks to you for your time and thoughts. Good luck to you on July 15th, or more importantly, good luck the day of the weigh-in. Here is a brief Q & A from our unexpected, impromptu meeting...

Q: How did you get into the "fight game?"

My passion and specialty has always been to help athletes lose weight and simultaneously improve energy and strength, but my work with Fernando Vargas is what positioned me in the "fight game" to work with top-notch, HBO level fighters.

Q: For the 1st Vargas/Mosley fight, you reduced Fernando Vargas from a reported weight of 195 lbs down to 154 lbs, and yet still maintained his strength? How?

Like boxing, food or shall I say nutrition is a sweet science. Unfortunately, the boxing industry is behind the times when it comes to making weight and being strong. If I were to tell you how I do it... you would have a difficult time believing me. But truth be known: food and conditioning go hand in hand and how I keep him strong while losing weight is primarily in the timing, nutrient balance and portion size of what he eats and when he eats it.

Q: Is it true that you no longer work with Team Vargas?

For a short time I wasn't with Team Vargas; however, the great news is that Vargas brought me back into the camp with plenty of time to work my magic. My primary focus is Vargas being at his best on July 15th.

Q: I don't want to put you on the spot, but who's your pick for the fight?

In the Vargas camp we have a saying that goes like this: "Ferocious Squad... we live for - Ferocious Squad... we die for." Ferocious all the way baby!!!

Article posted on 07.07.2006

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