74-year-old Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain is one of the finest boxing trainers in the sport’s long history. Almost certainly THE finest boxing trainer to have come out of the great fighting country of Mexico, Beristain has trained, at one time or another, no less than 24 world champions; from minimum-weight king Ricardo Lopez to multi-weight ruler Oscar De La Hoya.
One of the most deserving inductees in The Hall of Fame, Nacho still has more goals to achieve; most notably guiding Juan Manuel Marquez to success in “Dinamita’s” final ring appearances (starting this Saturday when Marquez will face thrill-a-minute slugger Mike Alvarado).
A few months back, on what was a special day indeed, I had the honour of a brief meeting with Beristain, and he was kind enough to list for me his pick for the top-three finest fighters he has trained. No easy task, picking just three fighters from such a long and illustrious list, but Nacho – who has worked with all-action warriors and slick boxing masters alike – gave me his picks.
“I’ve had 20 world champions, and these three I consider my best,” Nacho said before listing the cream of the talent he has guided to glory.
“I have to say Juan Manuel Marquez, he keeps on impressing me. He’s achieved a lot, being a four-time world champion at four different weights.
“Gilberto Roman (two-time super-flyweight champion), at the time (in the mid to late 1980s) he had the best overall technique of any fighter in the world. I mostly admire boxers, who have good technical skills. I believe defence is the most important aspect I teach my fighters.
“And Daniel Zaragoza (WBC bantamweight champ and three-time WBC super-bantamweight champ) I really have a soft spot for him.”
Three legends indeed; all coached by a legend in the art and craft of teaching The Sweet Science.
Beristain’s full list of champions trained:
Juan Manuel Marquez
Oscar De La Hoya
Guty Espadas Junior
Melchor Cob Castro
Juan Carlos Salgado