Whether you agree he is worthy of claiming the lofty accolade of having been this year’s Trainer of the Year when the time comes, and whether or not you agree he is the best boxing trainer out there in the world right now period, you must agree Cuba’s Ismael Salas has been making some serious waves these past few years.
What also must be agreed on is the fact that Salas, who was born in Guantanamo in 1957 and has to date trained around 20 world champions, is one of the most humble and down-to-earth trainers of champions ever.
Salas never looks for the glory; he wants his fighters to receive the accolades. And Salas has been there and done it in the ring himself – having boxed on the tough, take-no-prisoners Cuban amateur circuit before turning his hand to training. Salas is currently enjoying seeing his fighter Yordenis Ugas celebrate his massive (and well deserved) win over living legend Manny Pacquiao. Yet already, Salas is working hard to make sure another one of his fighters achieves his dream of being crowned a world champion.
This is how Salas works. Much like the late, great Angelo Dundee, who was also unafraid to take a back seat to his star fighters, Salas, like Dundee before him, gets most satisfaction and pride from seeing his young boxers reach the pinnacle. When this writer suggested to Salas that he was a veritable shoo-in for 2021’s Trainer of the Year award, the man who has worked with/is working with, among others, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares, Kazuto Ioka, Joe Joyce, and Yordenis Ugas, replied as follows:
“Thank you, but from the bottom of my heart, I wish to just carry on making more world champions.”
Again, Salas is not looking to scoop up any glory; he merely wants his fighters to get showered with the stuff. As he explained:
“Fame comes and goes, but legacy is forever.”
How will Salas be remembered when his work, his fine work, is done? Ask humble yet brilliant fighters such as Ugas, Joyce, and Linares, and they will tell you Ismael Salas will go down as nothing but a truly great trainer. But when the time comes for such a distinction to be afforded him, don’t expect Salas to go around shouting about it.