By Rudy Mondragon
On Tuesday afternoon, I called the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy to see if Robert Garcia would be at his gym. A woman answered the phone (later to find out it was Robert’s wife!) and said the gym didn’t open to the public till 4 pm. She let me know I was welcomed to the gym and could stop by if I liked. I looked at my friend, Hector Limon and asked him if he was up for a 1.5 hour drive to Oxnard. He responded, “Yeah, I’m down!”
We made it to Oxnard in less than 2 hours, surprised by the lack of Los Angeles traffic (Shocker!). As we pulled up, the gym appeared to be super quiet and actually dead. We walked around and took pictures. I walked up to a dog training business and asked a man there if he knew what time the gym opened. “Oh, that gym? It went out of business. Robert relocated down the street (points at another building).” It took me a minute to realize that the man meant that Robert out grew his old gym and relocated to a larger space. I thanked the man and we made our way down the street.
We pulled up to the new spot and there was definitely more life and energy here. A couple of BMW’s, Mercedes and Audi’s parked outside gave us a sense that there were some pros in the building. We walked in and were greeted by a young girl at the front desk.
“How you doing? Are there any rules for the gym?” I asked her.
“No, you can go inside if you like.” She replied.
I looked inside the gym and saw a man in red shorts, white t-shirt and mits. “Is that Robert Garcia in the ring?” I asked her.
“YEAH, THATS MY DAD!” She replied with joy.
Shortly after, Robert Garcia’s wife comes out of an office space and lets us know it is totally fine to enter the gym and take pictures after Robert is done working with his fighters. We walked in and stood next to the ring to observe Robert Garcia doing work with none other than the Mexican Russian, Evgeny Gradovich. Robert finished a set of mits with Evgeny and came over to the ropes closest to us to greet us. Asked us where we were from and that we were more than welcome to take pictures of him working.
At that point I was more comfortable walking around the gym and began to explore. At the opposite ring was middleweight contender, Marco Antonio Rubio from Torreon, Mexico. At the end of his training session, I was able to briefly talk with Marco. I let him know that he did a hell of a job against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr back in 2012 and that the extra weight Chavez Jr walked in with was not just. The humble warrior that Marco is responded by saying it was a good fight, but Chavez Jr beat me that night. We took a picture together and he went back to packing up his bag as he was done training for the day.
Robert finished his work with the Mexican Russian and came down to talk with me and Hector. I kid you not, we spent the next 1.5 hours talking about boxing politics, upcoming fights, dream fights, and promotion companies. The one thing I brought up was the claim that Victor Ortiz made about Robert taking him out to party at 2am the week of his fights. Every claim and story has two sides and I wanted to hear Roberts. He shared multiple examples of inconsistencies in Victor’s hardship story as well as how Victor tried to ruin Robert’s reputation in Oxnard. As I suspected, Victor is a victim of media manipulation, taking his story and identity, twisting it and forcing Victor to uphold false stories that the media has created on his behalf. Put lightly, as a result of Victor’s actions, Robert lost a city job at La Colonia Gym and in a near by school where he worked with youth. A blessing in disguise however, as that struggle allowed Robert to open up his own gym. A gym that to this day has been nothing short of successful.
As we continued talking, Elie Seckbach showed up to the gym. For those who don’t know Elie, he is an unconventional and fun reporter who has been following boxing for many years and does great video work. He is the creator of the Robert Garcia Documentary series and is at every boxing match you can think of.
Robert and I started talking about Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He shared with us that there is a possibility that he may train Chavez Jr in the future. Robert strongly feels that if they work together, 2-3 fights down the line, Chavez Jr can beat Gennady Golovkin (GGG). Knowing that Chavez Jr likes to train in the evenings, Robert converted a second floor space in his gym into a new training space. Robert walked us up there and showed us the brand new ring that would be used for evening workouts as the first floor is reserved for the youth. To me, this was a strong sign that Robert and Chavez Jr might be closer to working together than many currently think.
We continued our conversation on the second floor gym space and then Elie Seckbach joined us. He asked if I could help him out with a Q & A segment for his reporting. I agreed and here it is:
I was very impressed with my experience at the gym. Not only was I impressed with how hard the Mexican Russian and Marco A Rubio were training, but I was highly impressed with the vibe and energy in that gym. As a fan and blogger of boxing, I felt like family walking into that gym. Robert had no hesitation in talking to me like his equal. We talked boxing and laughed like we had known each other for years. I let Robert know that one thing I have noticed about him that separates him from all other trainers is his ability to connect with his fighters. In other words, the way he speaks to Brandon is different than how he connects with Nonito and with his brother Mikey Garcia. Robert appreciated the love and said that the reason it works out that way is that he has a strong bond with his fighters beyond the professional relationship. From joking around to breaking bread together, Robert Garcia does an outstanding job being a holistic trainer that takes a personalized approach to a professional business.
For those reading this blog, if you have an opportunity to carve out half a day in your schedule, visit this gym. You will not simply visit a gym, you will have an experience at the gym. Enjoy the pictures below of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.