By: Henry Deleon
With all the excitement and anticipation going on for the new movie Creed 2, Boxing Insider had the great honor of interviewing one of combat sports highly praised Cutman, Jacob “Stitch” Duran. Stitch ,who plays Adonis Creed’s Cutman in Creed 2, shared some insight on what it’s really like to be a Cutman. Here’s what he had to say:
Photo Credit: @stitchduran twitter account
Just for the people who might not know who you are can you tell us a little about yourself?
Stitch: Well as “Stitch” goes, I am a Cutman for fighters. I work all Combat events, Boxing, MMA down to the Bare Knuckle fights and I’ve done kickboxing before. So that’s what I do but the bottom line is for me to take care of the fighters. I’ll wrap their hands, help them get ready to go to battle. During the fights they get swelling, they get cuts and my job is to make sure they are okay, which is number one and help give them every opportunity to win the fights.
Boxing Insider: what inspired you to choose this profession?
Stitch: It actually just happened. I was in the air force back in 1974 during the Vietnam War. They sent me to Thailand and I saw my first Muay Thai fight so I ended up getting addicted to that and I started training that whole year I was there. When I got back I live in Oakland and I went to Kings Gym which is where Andre Ward trains at. I started learning how to box to improve my hands. My elbows, knees were already all good but from there I started training Amateur boxers and down the road I ended up opening up my own school of kickboxing which was A.S.K, the American School of Kickboxing. There I trained fighters, managed them, and just for economical purposes having learned all trades of combat, I started wrapping hands and working cuts and that just floated to the top. So 23 years ago I picked up my family, I moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to be a Cutman only and so I’ve been there ever since.
Boxing Insider: You mention one of the roles for a Cutman is to wrap a fighters hands. Can you explain a little more on the importance of wrapping a fighters hands properly?
Stitch: It’s extremely important to wrap a fighters hands properly. Frank Mir from the UFC once said and I quote “When I see Stitch walk into the dressing room, my stomach just drops because I know it’s time to fight” but in doing that, the psychology, outside just the mechanics of wrapping a good hand, protecting the knuckles, metacarpals the wrist and the thumb, is extremely important. Because these guys are getting ready to go to battle and you want to make sure their hands are ready and that’s one of the things I’m really good at but basically the bottom line of wrapping a good hand is so you don’t break them.
Boxing Insider: You mention a “psychological aspect” in what you do, do you mind telling us a little more about that, what’s the psychological toll it takes to be a Cutman?
Stitch: Well that’s a great question, Henry because that’s not something you go to school to learn. Because going to school to learn to be a Cutman is non-existent. I’ve done videos to help guys out but on the psychological aspect you have to really have been in the trenches in knowing what these guys are going through on the mental side and on the physical side and it’s how your approach with the psychological aspect that’s makes it important to give these guys confidence. A lot of guys when I wrap their hands you know you can see their confidence levels go up, and you know there’s many times when a guy will give you a hug and a kiss and tell you they love you because they know it’s time to go to battle and they know I’m there to take care of them so psychologically it’s important.
A good story is when Wladimir Klitschko fought Anthony Joshua, Wladimir Klitschko’s last fight. In the dressing room before the weigh in, I put my hand on his shoulder and I said Wladimir, don’t worry about nothing tomorrow, I’m going to take care of you like you’re my son. And he’s been the heavyweight champion of the world for like 12 years.
So during the fight in front of 90,000 screaming British, before Michael Buffer makes the announcement, I’m putting the final Vaseline on Wladimir, and it’s just between him and I and he looks down on me and says “Stitch, you can call me son” and you know, I thought that was extremely important because I knew throughout the night when he was thinking about the fight, that statement I made the day before stayed in his mind, and that’s probably the greatest fight he’s ever had in his career.
And then he calls me like 3 or 4 days after and he’s like “Hey Daddy”, so you know it stood with him.
Boxing Insider: Wow that’s amazing. So you end up developing a strong bond with these fighters you work with. Has there ever been a time in your career where you panicked because of how a cut was? Like how important is it for a Cutman to stay composed in situations like that.
Stitch: Damn that’s another good question. Damn you’re pretty good bro.
It’s extremely important keeping your composure. When people ask me what it takes to be a Cutman, you know the number one thing that goes at the top of the list, is keeping your composure. Obviously having the right tools of the trade, knowing when to use them and how to use them that goes with it but composure is extremely important. Have I ever choked in a situation like that? No I’ve been really good at keeping my composure. And it’s important because a fighter will read you. Mike Pyle, another UFC fighter once said “When I see Stitch walking in, I know I have a cut but I’m not concerned” Even Andre Ward, when he got cut, he said “ I knew I got cut but the first thing that popped in mind was I’m not worried because I have Stitch in my corner.” and those are very strong words.
Boxing Insider: What advice can you give a trainer, in a circumstance where he has an amateur fighter and his fighter gets cut or a swollen eye. What advice can you give him on how to handle the situation, knowing at amateur level you don’t have access to a Cutman in your corner.
Stitch: You’re pretty good bro. You know for all these amateur cultures and actually a lot of them with the pros, especially in the pro’s, because this is the only A level sport where you don’t have to be certified to be a trainer so on that aspect it’s important for them to study other Cutman to get as much information as possible. The common sense for the key element to what we do is if it was you, how would you like for somebody to take care of you. so that’s very important.
Jacob “Stitch” Duran has worked with countless boxing champions like Andre ward, Chris Algeiri, Wladamir Klitchsko and many more. Catch Stitch alongside Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone on November 21, 2018 in Creed 2. Creed 2 brings to you one of the most sought out fights you won’t want to miss!