By: Hans Themistode
Fighters such as Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr, Manny Pacquiao or even “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali became got to their position with God given talent and hard work. One of the most important and obvious factors in making them who they are, is the gyms that they were associated with.
Today, both fighters and trainers choose the best of the best in terms of boxing facilities. Mendez and Gleason’s gym, which are located in New York, are world renowned. The Mayweather boxing club which has made its home in Las Vegas, Nevada, has played host to many former and current champions.
In the Lawndale section of Carson California, lies a newly opened gym. One that has already garnered plenty of attention from both casual individuals who are looking to stay in shape, as well as championship level boxers.
Photo Credit: Lucas Noonan
Welcome, to Combinations Academy.
The facility itself is a spacious and gorgeous one. It is stocked with the typical amenities that are associated with a boxing gym. Several rings, plenty of punching bags, treadmills and even a sauna can be found inside the facility.
Although these resources are top notch, they can be found at your local boxing gym virtually anywhere. What makes this gym different however, is the sort of teaching provided by Marvin Somodio.
Somodio isn’t your typical trainer. He has worked closely with eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao and his hall of fame trainer, Freddie Roach. He hasn’t just spent time on the outside looking in, Somodio has also paid his dues in the ring as well.
Photo Credit: Lucas Noonan
“When I was in high school, I was maybe 15 years old, a friend of mines invited me to the gym to watch his training,” recalled Somodio as he reminisced about his start in boxing many years ago. “I liked it so much that I ended up getting into my first amateur fight the following week. After some hard work I made it on the national team.”
Although he found success as an amateur it didn’t take long for Somodio to realize that becoming a full time boxer was not in the cards for him.
“Soon after my amateur days I turned pro. I won my first two fights by knockout but in my third fight I almost got knockout out,” said Somodio while laughing. “I learned my lesson.”
Becoming a professional boxer didn’t turn out quite how he wanted it to but it was a blessing in disguise. Somodio turned his attention to the training aspect of boxing. It was at that point where he would meet two men that he would forever be linked to.
“I used to work at a boxing gym in the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach came to our gym to prepare for Miguel Cotto and that was the first time that I met them. Freddie asked me to become an assistant trainer for him. I agreed and we had a very good relationship.”
Even the most successful of relationships often times don’t last. In the case of Marvin Somodio and Freddie Roach it was simply bad timing.
“We all have priorities in life and I have my family now,” said Somodio as he explained his falling out with Roach. “I was spending too much time at the gym. I have kids and I wanted to balance my schedule. I just needed to take a break to spend more time with my family. Roach understood completely and I am always welcomed with open arms if I go back to Freddie.
A return to Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao could lead to plenty of success in the ring, but it could also lead to being overlooked. Through no fault of his own, Roach casts an undeniable shadow wherever he goes. He has helped guide Pacquiao and several other elite level fighters to championships. The love between Somodio and Roach will always be there, but he wanted to set his own path, which led to him opening up the Combination Boxing Academy.
“The idea to open a gym came from a friend. He wanted us to open up a gym together. At the same time I wanted to see if it was going to work for me and see if I can be a great trainer. The gym is opened to everyone. I teach classes from beginners to elite level fighters.”
Amongst those elite level fighters are current WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, former WBC Super Middleweight champion David Benavidez and current WBC Welterweight belt holder Shawn Porter. The latter two names have spent time recently in Somodio’s gym preparing for their respective title fights. Benavidez will be challenging Anthony Dirrell for his WBC strap while Porter will be looking to unify titles with Errol Spence Jr.
Training in the same gym has seemingly helped both fighters as they have recently sparred together in the ring. Somodio won’t break the unwritten rules of speaking on sparring sessions but he did give his take on what he witnessed.
“They are both great fighters and the sparring session that they had was very competitive. They pushed each other to the limit.”
The Combination Boxing Academy is receiving a ton of attention. Although Somodio has been around the sport for years, he is still as motivated as ever to continue his hard work. For Somodio, his goals stretch far beyond just the boxing ring.
“My main goal is to produce world champions. I simply want to share my knowledge about boxing. It is a great sport. It is not about just hitting each other. It is an art. Boxing brings people of all cultures together. The reason why the gym is called Combination Boxing is because through boxing people and nations come together.”