(Angel Garcia, yelling about something, as his son Danny looks on)
Remember the days when you used to wish that you’d one day grow up to be as big and tough as your dad? Remember trying to practice after he taught you how to throw a punch, only to get bored after a couple of minutes and forget about it? Well the sons of these guys don’t. They stand as a tribute to the value of instilling discipline — or the complete lack thereof — and an indomitable will to win deep inside your children. This is a tribute to boxing’s rich paternal tapestry through a look at the best, worst, and just straight-up weirdest father figures in the sport.
Four of these fathers, in fact, are “in action” over the next two weekends.
Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr.: We love Julio around here, not only for what he did in the ring, but also for the fact that he can keep a straight face while his son eats cereal and shows off his hot pink short shorts for the HBO cameras. Now I like watching Junior fight, but he’s the epitome of a knucklehead. This is a man who resorted to training for the Sergio Martinez fight in his living room because he couldn’t be bothered to leave the house. That’s some next level short-sightedness right there.
By all accounts, however, he does listen to his father. For that, I’ve got to give it up for El Gran Campeon. It’s one thing to go 87 fights unbeaten, but it’s quite another to maintain the respect and discipline of your 6’1″ monster of a son when he’s been financially set since birth and you’re only 5’7″. Imagine if you found yourself on the wrong side of a beating in the schoolyard and returned home to Chavez, Sr.? He’d most likely get you working the heavy bag into the small hours, before tying a red ribbon round your head and sending you back to wreak brutal revenge on both your contemporaries and the gym teacher.
Hector Camacho, Sr.: What more can we say about Macho that wasn’t covered by the innumerable euologies following his tragic death in 2012? He fought everyone, rarely got knocked down, and wore his hair in a way that would have made Prince blush. He also once got arrested for having sex with his girlfriend while driving down the freeway. Yes, that’s right, whilst he was behind the wheel. Now that’s something that would require both dexterity and some serious forethought, so it’s made all the more impressive when you consider that Hector wasn’t exactly renowned for being the most fastidious man.
You know how you eventually learn to accept the fact that your parents were once as young and nubile as you? Hector would have been the sort of dad who would have got you to embrace the more carnal side of your parentage, long before you were biologically or mentally able. “Macho time begins at birth!” as they probably say in Spanish Harlem… perhaps.
Antonio Margarito, Sr.: I’ve only ever seen one picture of the man who fathered the Tijuana Tornado. It was a blurry polaroid taken when he Tony was a little boy and aired during the build up for his first fight with Miguel Cotto. I’ve never watched an interview with him Senor Margarito, or even seen him at ringside. I have, however, seen his son fight. In fact, I’ve seen his son do extraordinary things in the ring.
I’ve seen him shave years off his own career and permanently damage his vision by insisting on seeing out the final rounds of a fight he had no way of winning again Manny Pacquiao. I’ve seen his son fix his opponents with that dead-eyed, drug-dealer’s gaze and beg them to get up after they’ve hit the canvas in order for the punishment to continue. I may not know much, but there’s only one place he could have got that stare from, and for that alone his dad makes the list. His son may not have an impeccable character, but you can’t put a price on those soulless, Mexican eyes.
Jack Mosley: Jack’s not quite deified in coaching circles just yet, despite a Trainer of the Year award from 2000, but he makes it onto the list for one incident alone. This is the man who managed to shut Floyd Mayweather, Sr. up, albeit temporarily. Legend has it that at the weigh-ins for Oscar De La Hoya vs. Shane Mosley, Floyd Sr. decided not to move after observing Shane tipping the scales. Seeing as he was prevented from seeing his son’s opponent weigh-in, Jack decided to take matters into his own hands and, as he recalls it, “picked him up and set him to the side.”
Having deposited Mayweather somewhere off in the cloisters, the latter is alleged to have remained rooted to the spot in silence. They’ve got on well since this humbling event and Floyd has rarely even mentioned his name, which adds further credence to the story because he’s launched verbal assaults on just about everyone else on planet earth during that time. Well, I suppose he did threaten to knock him out back in 2010, but coming from a Mayweather that hardly counts as a major indiscretion…
Chris Eubank, Sr. (above, with son): You may think it would be cool to have a dude who drives around England’s south coast in a Peterbilt 379 as a dad? I mean, come on. It’s the largest truck available in Europe! Well, I guess you should know that he probably won’t let you ride in it with him. And that in reality he only drives it through central London at less than 5 miles an hour, desperately sniffing around for anyone with even a passing interest in an autograph. But still, it’s pretty sweet right? …Right?
Yoel Judah: If there’s an easy way to make it into the “bad” section of this list then it’s by enabling your son to act like a moron. When we come to look back on Zab Judah’s career, it will likely be summed up in one word: underachievement. It could also be summed up in one fight, against Floyd Mayweather in 2006 when he famously lost control and pugilistically “opted out of the bout.” Needless to say, his father Yoel didn’t exactly restrain his son in the aftermath of the low blow and subsequently received a one-year ban.
However, in the interests of balance, it has to be said that Judah, Sr. had mellowed since. He doesn’t throw his fists as he once did, having famously refused to condemn the questionable shots Cotto inflicted on Zab during their fight in 2007, and he’s even cooled down on the smack talking — although the latter reluctance might be seen as having come back to bite him, given Angel Garcia’s spirited vocal performance during the build-up to his son Danny’s fight with Zab this month. It’s hard to think that the Yoel from a decade ago would have let him get away with mouthing off like that…
Angel Garcia: I actually watched a video featuring Papa Garcia right before I came to write this section. Yep, you guessed it. He was ranting about being from Philly and claiming he’s all about the mean streets. Nothing new there, right? I guess it’s white noise to most boxing fans by now, but I can still recall the first time I witnessed his faux-gangster posturing in the build up to his son’s fight with Amir Khan last year. I must admit I hadn’t taken much notice of Danny before that, having been monumentally turned off by the Kendall Holt snooze-fest, but his dad’s bizarre tirades drew me in. The process started with eye-rolling and slight annoyance, before quickly escalating to the point where I wondered whether it would be Khan or his own child who’d be the first to shut him up. I never thought he was racist, even after the whole “I never met a Pakistani who could fight” thing. He just came across as straight up dumb.
The guy’s built up an impressive rap-sheet in a short space of time since then, including browbeating his son into getting the same haircut as him. Yet when it comes down to it I’m almost reluctant to rip into Angel too much on the basis that it’s clear he genuinely cares about his family. What’s more, I’ve never seen Danny object to his behaviour. He seems to laugh it off in the same way you would when a drunk friend drops a Wii remote into the toilet at a house party. I suppose that’s how I see Papa Garcia, really — the guy mumbling away to himself at the end of the bar, aiming furtive glances at the groups of women lining up to ride the mechanical bull, occasionally attempting to finish a frame of pool with a hapless tourist while calling him “dog” and making inordinate references to Philly pride.
Floyd Mayweather, Sr.: Where would an article on boxing genealogy be without a mention of the venerable old patriarch of the Mayweather clan? To be honest, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said a thousand times over by almost everyone associated with the sport. The guy’s an idiot. He makes his brother Roger look like a gentleman, and Roger certainly isn’t one of those. He also made Ricky Hatton look wise and sensible. And Hatton certainly isn’t… blah blah blah. You get the point.
Despite the fact that he was a fighter, and a decent one at that, he comes across as almost as much of a poser as Mr. Garcia above. I’ve never seen a guy shrink so visibly once his son’s entered the room. You can switch on any HBO 24/7 episode on Mayweather and marvel at how his dad likes nothing more than running his mouth when his son’s out of earshot, only to visibly whither when he approaches and resort to the role of geriatric hype man. It’s pathetic. Plus his diet is notoriously terrible, which is probably where Floyd, Jr. got his love for Popeye’s Chicken from. It’ll catch up to them both one day! Oh wait…
Adrien Broner’s dad: Firstly, the absence of a real name isn’t due to a lack of research on my part. Do a quick scan of Google and you’ll see that no one knows the guy’s name. Seriously, click on any Boxing news site and you’ll see him listed simply as “Adrien Broner’s dad.”
Has the guy’s chronic lack of self-respect finally resulted in him legally changing his name to better reflect his ongoing servitude to his title-holding son? We always said it would be a slippery slope once he started brushing his namesake’s hair in the ring. I guess soon he’ll be applying the mouthwash after Broner gets home from the strip club. A truly noble calling.
Ruben Guerrero: Mr “30-0 from the barrio” is no looker, let’s make that clear. He has facial hair that would have impressed the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. And he’s also become involved in a rather nasty war of words with Mayweather, Sr. over recent weeks, with various asses being in danger of knockouts if you take either party literally. In fact, Ruben’s gone as far as to film himself doing one-armed pushups in the parking lot, presumably while someone else was worrying about training his son, Robert, for the biggest fight of his career.
It must be said, though, that Robert Guerrero’s one of the genuine nice guys of the sport, so it’s hard to see his dad as much of a bad apple even if he came suspiciously close to boasting about his spells in prison on one of the Showtime All Access shows earlier this month. I guess the likelihood is that he’s trying to deflect attention away from his son and build hype for the fight at the same time. Also he’s a pretty good chef, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
John Fury: Father of Tyson Fury, the 6’9″ monster who forearmed his way to victory against Steve Cunningham recently, he used to fight around Southern England in the early 80s under the name Gypsy John Fury. He wasn’t an especially impressive boxer, never managing to score a knockout against any of his 14 opponents. Still, you wouldn’t want to bump into him in a dark alley.
I’ve only ever seen a mugshot of him, mainly because he’s currently serving an 11-year jail term for gouging out another man’s eye during a street fight in 2011. He’s clearly a very dangerous individual, one that it would be extremely unwise to upset. Actually, thinking about it, I probably shouldn’t be filing him under the “ugly” section. Forget I said any of this…
Sam Sheppard is a freelance copyeditor and aspiring boxing writer from the U.K. He lives in London and has recently finished his first novel. Follow him on Twitter @sonofduran.