Idec: Hall recognizes Freddie Roach
The brutally honest trainer would be the first to tell you that he never would've achieved what he accomplished Tuesday if voters judged him based on his own boxing record.
Freddie Roach was more tough than talented during an eight-year pro boxing career in which he went 40-13 (including 15 knockouts) from August 1978-October 1986. The Dedham, Mass., native never fought for a world title, much less won one.
That didn't stop Roach, 51, from becoming one of the best trainers in the world. That's why Roach — who trains Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and British star Amir Khan — was selected for induction Tuesday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The IBHOF's 13-member Class of 2012, which will be inducted June 10 in Canastota, N.Y., also includes four-division champion Tommy Hearns, two-division title-holder Mark Johnson, Showtime commentator Al Bertstein, ring announcer Michael Buffer and longtime New York Daily News/New York Times boxing writer Michael Katz.
"I'd like to thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart, who voted for me and congratulate those chosen with me Tuesday," Roach said. "I started my career in professional boxing with Eddie Futch and now we will be together, forever, enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the greatest legends of the sport. I am truly honored and humbled."
Roach's humility, as well as the courage he has exhibited during a very public battle with Parkinson's disease, have made him one of boxing's most captivating figures, a rarity among non-participants. Despite debilitating effects from Parkinson's, Roach runs the famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., each day and plans to continue training fighters until his body won't allow it.
The respected trainer's valiant fight against the disease will be one of the main themes of "On Freddie Roach," a six-part HBO series scheduled to debut Jan. 20.
"Freddie Roach is an extraordinary person and a fascinating personality," Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming, said recently. He's also an elite trainer, something that would've made the late Futch very proud.
Roach began learning the trade from Futch in 1987, once the legendary Futch convinced him to retire. Futch's protťgť has since worked with more than 20 world champions, including Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson and James Toney.
They were much better fighters than Roach, but his induction is beyond deserved.
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