Simon Bakinde: From Paris to Brooklyn
By: Bryant Romero
Well respected trainer and former professional boxer Simon Bakinde is now 17 years since he left his native France and now living in New York and training professional prize fighters at the Mendez Gym in Manhattan, while also guiding the careers and managing a couple of prospects he’s looking to develop as world champions. Simon has come a long way from the young fighter he used to be who was looking for an opportunity when he first came to America, to now managing and training fighters out of New York. Simon was an up and coming Cruiserweight prospect looking for glory when he first stepped foot in America; however his opportunity to make it big here never came, and he instead found his calling as a trainer. Boxinginsider recently caught with Simon as he reflected on his past life in France and how he got to this point.
“The year I dropped out of college, I was wondering what I was going to do in the future,” Simon said.
“I realized that I didn’t want to be in the office all day long. I love physical activities, training, fitness and other things, so I said ‘I got to do something,’ but I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
While still contemplating on what he wanted to do for his future, Simon turned to his uncle for some guidance. His uncle insisted that he get into a sport, which Simon did, so he tried soccer for awhile, but he hated the team aspect of it.
“I hated losing in soccer because the teamwork situation was a little of a problem for me. When we lost I hated the fact that it was everyone’s fault. I wanted to make sure that if anything goes wrong it’s my fault, it’s no one else, so I give everything I got,” Simon said.
So his uncle suggested perhaps track and field, which is a more individual sport. With his lone wolf mentality, Simon figured out that he wanted to become a boxer.
“I said I’m going to do boxing, so I went to a boxing gym, the closest one near me in a suburb near Paris,” Simon told me.
“I met the coach and I tell him ‘Listen I want to be a professional fighter and I want to be a world champion.’ And he said, ‘Listen all that is possible, you just have to work.’ So I said, ‘no problem we’re going to put the work in.”
Simon would start putting that work in the gym for the next two years and he competed in 15 amateur fights with just a lone defeat. Simon recognized that he had some talent in this boxing game; he decided to turn pro after just two years in the amateur ranks, but with no guidance from an experienced manager or a promoter backing him.
“I turn pro with no gameplan without any money behind me, with no manager, my coach was basically my manager,” Simon said. “He had no connections, so he was just letting me take fights left and right.”
Simon realized that he wasn’t getting the right guidance to his career, which resulted in some early losses. So he decided to make a change and added a different coach to his team, but he would soon see the dark side of the business of boxing.
“That coach was actually stealing money from me. He was lying on the contract and once I realized he was getting money under the table, I started to think about going somewhere else,” Simon told me.
After arriving to the States with a plan to make it big in boxing in America, Simon was looking for fights and he even fought for free on some of the promoters cards to just show them what he had. Unfortunately, Simon came to the U.S at a time when European fighters weren’t getting much shine compared to today. Simon was unable to break into the U.S. boxing market and after three years of waiting with literally no fights; he decided to train people instead.
Simon would develop friendships and partnerships within in the boxing world which have resulted in young fighters from France coming over to train with him. He’s learned from the mistakes that he made within his own boxing career and has made sure that that fighters he trains or manages will get the best guidance possible for a the most successful boxing career they could have.
He currently trains light heavyweight prospect from Paris Fredric Julan (10-0, 8 KOs), super lightweight prospect Yurik Mamedov (10-1, 3 KOs), and guides the career of Romain Tomas (7-1, 1 KO). I asked why these 3 guys came a long way just to train with him and do these 3 have what it takes to become a champion?
“I think these guys came to me because we create trust. Trust is number 1 no matter how much knowledge you have, or how much money have,” Simon said.
“The fight game is a sport with a lot soul and a lot of heart, a lot of emotion, so you got to make sure that people trust you fully.
“I created a comfort zone where people can trust me, but also get results.
“I think they have what it takes to become champion because they have dedication and a lot of faith in them and they work hard,” Simon said.
Simon was a defensive minded fighter in his younger days and as a trainer considers himself to be a tactician and that being the smarter fighter with a right strategy can overcome a lot of what a fighter deals with inside that ring.
“I am a tactician. Defense first which is my culture since I was very defensive fighter myself,” Simon said.
“Skill, technique, and all these things without strategy is very limited to me. Strategy can overcome a lot.
“Strategy means you’re a thinking fighter, you have plan a, plan b, plan c, you have more than one gameplan,” he said.
OLD SCHOOL: An Interview with Big Baby Miller’s Trainer, Harry Keitt
By: Patrick Mascoe
Boxing is a complex sport. Those of uswho love boxing love the action in the ring, and we often see the sport as a metaphor for life. Life is a struggle, a fight and for those who give up, success is never attained. Boxing has a history of wasted talent, crushed dreams and fighters who self-destruct. However, it also has a history of salvation and redemption. The life of veteran Brooklyn trainer Harry Keitt is such a story. Once a promising fighter, and a man who had sparred with the likes of Light Heavyweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi and the great Muhammad Ali, Keitt soon found his life spiralling out of control.
Harry Keitt began using drugs and, at his lowest point, shot his own cousin. After serving his time in prison, he rededicated his life to helping the young people of his community. He wanted to make sure that they did not make some of the same mistakes that have haunted him. He has spent close to 30 years making up for that one error in judgement. In that time, he has become a man who has taken on the job of trainer, mentor and surrogate father to many in his Brooklyn neighbourhood. He has become a respected individual due to his strength of character, his wisdom, and more importantly, he now possesses self-worth and dignity.
How long have you actively been involved in the sport of boxing?
“I myself boxed for ten years from 1976 to 1986. In 1989, I became a trainer and have been involved in training fighters ever since.”
In that time, what major changes have you seen in sport with regards to match-making and training?
“Back in the day, if a champion lost a fight he would get an immediate rematch. He would be ranked as the number one contender. Now, if you lose, you may not even find yourself in the top ten. Boxing trainers are being replaced by strength and conditioning coaches. I get that everybody is trying to make a living, but everything is really upside down. These guys don’t really know boxing. Lots of guys today are using drugs to get stronger or faster. People are looking for an easy way to succeed.”
You have literally trained hundreds of fighters in your time. Do you have any favorites?
“I trained a young boy named Mark Anene. He came into the gym when he was ten years old weighing 170 lbs. When I asked him why he was crying all the time, he told me he was being picked on and laughed at. I told him that if you stick with boxing, the bullying would stop. That boy’s weight dropped to 156 lbs. and he became a Jr. National Champion, a Golden Gloves Champion, and a Jr. World Champion. Through boxing, he was able to achieve everything he wanted. He also became like a son to me. His goal was never to fight pro but rather to graduate high school and get a college degree. I attended his graduation and we are still in touch to this day. I also trained, well known contender, John Duddy (29-2), who may not have been the most skilled of fighters, but was so hard working and determined; he could have been a world champion. He is now a successful actor and doing very well. When training an amateur like Mark, or a professional like John, it was never about the money. It was always about training them right.”
Which fighters today impress you and have your attention?
“To be honest, fighters today aren’t the same. Most are looking for short cuts. The fighters of today lack hunger and don’t have a strong work ethic. Guys come in and they want to copy Floyd Mayweather’s style or Sugar Ray Leonard’s style. They don’t understand that you need to learn the basics and then find your own style. Guys like Mayweather and Leonard are gifted fighters. You have to develop your own style and that comes through training, not by copying another guy. I do like Deontay Wilder because I know that he is being trained the right way. His trainer, Mark Breland, is teaching him to have strong fundamentals and has instilled in him a strong work ethic. Breland, himself, was a great fighter and understands there are no short cuts to success. People keep predicting that Deontay is going to lose yet, he just keeps winning.”
In the eyes of many of the young men and women you train, you are seen as a surrogate father, a mentor, an advisor, and a teacher. What is the most important lesson to try to impart on these young people?
“I want them to learn to carry themselves with confidence. Kids need to develop self-confidence in order to succeed in life. The minute you think you can’t do something, then you have failed already.”
Knowing that not every person you train will turn professional or make a living as a boxer, how to you define your success as a trainer?
“I would love to see one of my fighters win a world title. That’s how I would define my personal success. But I think people need to be champions to themselves. As I said before, I trained Mark Anene and he was very successful. He graduated high school and college. He accomplished his dream. Knowing what his goal was, I often checked his report cards to make sure he stayed on track. Boxing was a path that he used to succeed. I want people to learn to believe in themselves.”
You are presently training undefeated heavyweight Jarrell Miller. He is currently ranked 9th in the world by Ring magazine. What is it like to work with Jarrell and how far do you think he can go?
“Jarrell can go as far as he wants. He can be a world champion. At times we have our ups and downs. As a trainer, I always want my fighters to train harder. I am old school. Young guys see me and they laugh because I don’t know much about Facebook or Twitter, but I know boxing. In the gym, I tell them I know what you know, but you don’t know what I know. Young guys get on the treadmill and run, but to me the treadmill is doing all the work. It is not the same. Go out and do your own roadwork. Guys need to work harder.”
Your personal story is one of redemption. Are you happy today with the path your life has taken?
“I feel great about myself. For a while, I was headed in the wrong direction and I was doing all the wrong things. When I came out of prison, I told myself that I would never go back. I needed to start doing the right thing. My life has been good. I was involved in a documentary movie in 1999, called On the Ropes, and it was nominated for an Oscar. I got the chance to attend the Academy Awards. My life has definitely gone in the other direction, a better direction.”
Harry Keitt presently works out of Mendez gym at 23 E. 26th Street in Manhattan, New York and trains undefeated heavyweight prospect Jarrell Miller. Miller’s next fight will be on April 28th at the Barclays Center on the under card of the Daniel Jacobs – Maceiej Sulecki fight. Harry Keitt readily acknowledges that he is an old school trainer. To him, that means teaching fighters to develop strong work ethics in order to become fundamentally sound. In a day and age when we sometimes see old as being passé, Harry Keitt is anything but. Honest, caring and knowledgeable trainers should be the norm, not the exception. He continues to preach to his young disciples – you need to be a champion to yourself. Although he may still possess some regrets about his earlier life, Harry Keitt has worked selflessly with the young people of Brooklyn and in return, he himself has become a champion.
Interview with Derrick James, Trainer to Errol Spence Jr.
Boxing Insider Interview with Derrick James
By: Marley Malenfant
Derrick James is busy man.
When he’s not training his stable of boxers, like current IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence jr or Jermell Charlo, he hosts private and group boxing sessions at the Cooper Aerobics Institute in Dallas.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports
James has trained professionally for over ten years. His career as a professional boxer is 27-7-1 and he’s a former two-time Golden Gloves champion in Texas.
Not one to really hype himself up, James said the formula to his success is to never stop working.
“All of our strength and conditioning work is done at Cooper and our boxing work is done at R&R [Boxing Club in Dallas].”
In a Q&A, James discussed his working relationship with Spence, consideration for trainer of the year, plans to finish out the year and brief talks with the indecipherable Al Haymon.
BI: Do you think boxing media was ignoring you and Errol Spence’s rise prior to a championship because you’re both from Texas?
DJ: I don’t think they ignored Errol as much as they did myself. A couple years ago he was prospect of the year. He was an ESPN prospect of the year and Premier Boxing Champions named him prospect of the year. The boxing media and the boxing world have not ignored him. I think myself, yes. A little bit but not much.
BI: Why do you think that is?
DJ: It’s like a small, small community. I think they like the same ol’ guys. Errol is not my first world champion. It’s Jermell Charlo, who’s from Texas as well. But I don’t know, man. But they almost don’t have a choice now [but to respect it]. I have 23 guys and three champions. So my third guy, Robert Brant, he’s fighting for the world title sometime in August or September for the WBA belt that Danny Jacobs gave up to fight [Gennady Golovkin] GGG. I have three world champions. So there’s no way the public can deny.
BI: Are there things that you do as a trainer that other trainers should be doing?
DJ: Well, I’m happy that they’re not doing what we’re doing. And they don’t need to do it because what works for me does not mean that works for them. They need to stick to what they do and let us stick to what we do. That’s how I’ll say that.
BI: With Spence’s success, has anything changed with the way you two work?
DJ: No not at all, man. Everything thing has been the same. What’s funny is that initially, when I started training him as an amateur, my whole focus was that he would become world champion. Not professional. But it was amateur world champion. I wasn’t thinking that far off because the goal was the amateur world title. And then the Olympic games came. At that point, I never really set a goal except just work hard. For me as a trainer, I don’t feel right pushing my ideas on somebody else. I hope to make him the best he is. We haven’t changed anything. It’s the same pace, same everything since he was an amateur. The only thing we changed is the work we do a little bit. We spar 19 rounds instead of 10 rounds. That’s the difference. We just work a little bit harder and we always work the same pace and the same weight. And that’s why I think it’s getting a little bit harder for everybody to keep up.
BI: What would you like to see for Spence next?
DJ: I really don’t like to interject my personal feelings on who he should fight. I want him to fight whoever he wants to fight. So I listen to him. I go off of whatever he says. He says he wants to fight the best. He wants to fight Keith Thurman. If he can’t fight Keith Thurman because of an injury, then you know whoever the next possible opposition is. It could be Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia. These are the names I’ve heard him say. I’m just repeating what he said. I just get him prepared.
BI: Does he ever mention anyone from Top Rank or Golden Boy? Does he ever say ‘I wouldn’t mind getting at a [Terrance] Crawford or Manny Pacquiao’? Does he mention those guys to you in private?
DJ: Well, Pacquiao… he did say Pacquiao right after the last fight. And really, it’s not about Manny Pacquiao. It’s about that he has that title. So if he didn’t have that WBO belt, he wouldn’t mention his name at all.
BI: What’s it like working with Al Haymon. He’s a mysterious guy and you don’t see him in the media.
DJ: I don’t know, man. I don’t talk to him [laughs]. I’m serious. There’s a liaison that I generally work with and we’ll go from there. I really don’t work with him. I’ve met him before and have talked to him a couple of times. But I really don’t have to talk to him.
Big Drama Show: Abel Sanchez
Big Drama Show: Abel Sanchez
By: Francisco Martinez
March 18th at the Madison Square Garden in New York Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Jacobs will take place. Pinning the 2 best middleweights in boxing today also making Golovkin’s 2nd appearance on the PPV platform. Golovkin had this to say about his March 18th bout on HBO “I have a strategy, I’ll show you, A, B, C because Daniel is a huge fighter, I need a huge plan. He has power, speed and movement” attributes also found in a much smaller opponent in Kell Brook. Who gave Golovkin all he can handle up until the 5th round where the size difference and power took it’s toll bringing Brook’s corner to throw in the towel.
But since then leaving questions about Gennady Golovkin’s supremacy; Kell Brook having made a jump from 147lbs to 160lbs in a attempt of daring to be great but falling short but in the process leaving an impression that only boosted his stock and rose awareness as to how great Golovkin really is. A question head trainer Abel Sanchez attacks with facts. Fact that Golovkin is the best middleweight since Bernard Hopkins dominated the division with 20 consecutive title defenses surpassing the great Carlos Manzon.
Abel Sanchez assures 160lbs dominance is Golovkin’s priority. Breaking Bernard Hopkins record of 20 title defenses would be the one way to claim history and leave his mark behind for all to look back at and talk about when it’s all set and done “Hopefully he matches the great Bernard Hopkins record of 20 defenses and if he does and breaks it that’s really gonna be remembered more than the millions he made” says Abel Sanchez of Gennady Golovkin’s current streak of 17 title defenses. Just 3 from tying Hopkins record and 4 from breaking it.
Abel Sanchez believes his pupil is no less than great at this point of his career. When asked who had a better resume when comparing to Saul Alvarez own resume Abel had this to say “I would say Canelo has fought the most known opponents but Canelo hasn’t dominated his division like GGG has. Wait a minute, has there ever been anyone in the history of boxing who has dominated their division like Gennady Golovkin is? You can’t tell me this is the only time in history that the division is weak”
Abel Sanchez and team insist that whether or not the mega showdown with Saul Alvarez happens Gennady Golovkin will not stray the course from an already cemented legacy in boxing as one of the best 25 middleweights in boxing in the last 25 years. Promoter Tom Loeffler defends Golovkin from criticism aimed at his resume “You can only fight who will agree to get in the ring. We tried to make so many fights last year, with Canelo, with Saunders, with Eubank, we give Brook a lot of credit but I think this fight will erase any doubts, if Gennady is victorious with Danny Jacobs. I don’t think anyone can question Danny Jacobs resume. Blowing out Peter Quillin in 1 round was extremely impressive”
With back and forward negotiations between Saul Alvarez & Gennady Golovkin’s camp these past couple of a years many issues arised from weight to money. Now money seeming to be the sticking point as Alvarez’s team, Golden Boy promotions, revealed after his last victory against Liam Smith in front of 50k plus in attendance that Golovkin’s team didn’t answer to a $8 million dollar flat fee which has since expanded to $10 million and grew even further to $15 million. A deal some view as fair and some view as not fair. Either way Golovkin’s team has made it known that their content and that a fight with Saul Alvarez isn’t a career defining one for Golovkin’s legacy.
However the fans are not so laid back when it comes to talks of this fight between Alvarez and Golovkin. A demand now that has been placed by the fans wanting the winner of Saul Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to face Gennady Golovkin next. Tom Loeffler had this to say about possibly facing the winner of Alvarez & Chavez Jr. “Chavez is a lot bigger than Canelo, a lot bigger than Golovkin but when we tried to make the fight 2, 3 years ago it was gonna be at 168lbs so that would be a great fight” Alvarez wins and team Golovkin will gladly meet him at 160lbs, Chavez Jr. wins and they’ll compromise and meet him at 168lbs, end of story and the fans get what they want.
Through out the group interview Golovkin’s team had nothing but great things to say about the May 6th date between Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as most would think otherwise “It’s a business and that’s a good business move for Canelo. A tough business move for Canelo but it’s a good move. It’s a fight more important for Mexico than it is for boxing. It’s gonna give us supremacy. Who the actual star is in Mexico. The guy who wins is gonna be revered over there. I think it’s important for Mexican boxing”
March 18th & May 6th two important dates in boxing, both HBO PPV. Gennady Golovkin’s dominance at 160lbs will once again be in display against The Miracle Man, Daniel Jacobs. Golovkin’s streak of knockouts & title defenses have captivated the masses leading him into his 2nd PPV show or as he would call it, Big Drama Show. With a win over Jacobs, Golovkin is possibly eyeing a chance at the winner of Saul Alvarez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. which is the biggest fight in boxing since Floyd Mayweather Jr. squared off with Manny Pacquiao. Alvarez & Golovkin possibly facing each other has garnered the attention of all boxing.
Golovkin’s team aware of the opportunity but will not be blindsided by it as they maintain focus on the task at hand in Daniel Jacobs this March 18th will carry on about their business at the Madison Square Garden. Don’t miss it live on HBO PPV in New York.
Follow all coverage leading up to the fight by using #GGGJACOBS
What’s To Be Done About Angel Garcia?
What’s To Be Done About Angel Garcia?
By: Sean Crose
What can be done with the likes of Angel Garcia? The father and trainer of WBC welterweight champ Danny Garcia has proven himself to be a menace to the sport of boxing. Sure, you can say the word menace is hyperbole, but how else to explain a man who disrupts a major press conference with vitriol and behavior that, to the untrained eye at least, appears less than stable? That’s the thing about the elder Garcia – he’s either a complete ass or he’s unstable. There really is no in-between. And frankly, neither option is acceptable in the public sphere.
Truth be told, it’s painful to write about the man in this age of political correctness run amok. At a time when there is a serious belief that the First Amendment is a bad thing instead of the key to freedom it is, the last thing reasonable people should want to do is criticize someone for speaking out. Yet the elder Garcia gives us no choice. Yes, he has the right to say what he wants. No one (or, at least not this author) is arguing that fact. Yet people also have a First Amendment right to call him out for acting in a wildly inappropriate manner. And yeah, the WBC has a right to ban the man from further press conferences, as well as from his son’s corner in WBC sanctioned fights.
In all honesty, I’m still not sure exactly what Garcia was getting at when he went wild at last week’s press conference to announce the welterweight title unifier between his son and the undefeated Keith Thurman. Nor do I know if the man made sense or not. I heard a lot of derogatory stuff, though. I also saw the guy totally obliterate a major press conference that, for all intents and purposes, should have been very good for boxing. Garcia-Thurman is a major bout to be aired on network television in primetime, after all. In other words, it’s just what boxing needs.
What boxing most certainly doesn’t need is a major participant, peripheral or not, engaging in antisocial behavior in a public setting. Mike Tyson’s well documented meltdown hurt the sport – believe it. While the “Iron Mike” of the late 80s through early 90s brought the sport intense interest, the later, ear-biting, vile talking Tyson turned fans off. In other words, the sport can’t afford an unhinged Angel Garcia. Sanctioning bodies, networks and even analysts have to be responsible here.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that things like trash talk need to go by the way side. You don’t have to be a fan of what used to be called talking smack to understand its effectiveness. Trash talk is, after all, psychological warfare. And psychological warfare has been a part of boxing since at least 1890s, when it was practiced by “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. There’s a difference, though, between trash talk and legitimately chaotic behavior. Boxing is chaotic enough. If anything, more order is needed, not less. If he’s able to appreciate the difference, the senior Garcia should grasp the fact that hyping a fight and pissing off decent society are two entirely different things.
Nonito Donaire’s Father Steps Down As His Trainer
Nonito Donaire’s Father Steps Down As His Trainer
By: Brandon Bernica
Nonito Donaire will need to call for a ninth inning bullpen change in his corner, as father Nonito Donaire Sr. resigned as his head trainer this week. The split occurred after Donaire Sr. decided to move back to the Bay Area, which will conflict with his son’s training regimen.
The career of Nonito Donaire began under his father’s watchful eye, up until the time following Donaire’s breakthrough victory against Vic Darchiniyan in 2007. Personal problems split the pair up, and Donaire Jr. moved to train under world renowned cornerman Robert Garcia.
Donaire Sr. reemerged as co trainer for Nonito in 2013 after years of estrangement from his son. Under the tutelage of both his father and Garcia, Donaire Jr. scrapped his way to a rematch win against Vic Darchiniyan. After that fight, Donaire Sr. assumed full authority as head trainer, moving training camps to the Philippines.
While the father and son duo are breaking their relationship inside the ring, both men expressed no animosity towards each other on a personal level.
“He is an amazing trainer and an even better father. I wish him the best of luck in the path he chooses,” stated Donaire Jr. via a Facebook post detailing the situation.
As for Donaire Sr., he also used Facebook to express similar sentiments, stating that “I’ve been very grateful to work (Donaire Jr.’s) corner for the past couple years…I know he will find a trainer that will take him to the next level and hopefully I’ll be at the fight ringside to watch.”
Donaire Jr., 33, finds himself searching for a new trainer at the twilight of an illustrious career. There have been no rumored candidates yet, but a reunification with Garcia certainly must be near the top of the list. However, the four-division champion may be looking for someone to work with him in Las Vegas, where he resides with his wife and two children. Garcia holds camp in Oxnard and Riverside, California and is usually against leaving his gyms to train fighters.
Donaire Jr.is being angled to fight later in the year, possibly against Jesse Magdaleno. He holds a four fight win streak since his upset loss to Nicholas Walters in 2014 when he suffered the first knockout loss of his career.