By Derek Bonnett: Since the start of 2008, I have covered stories concerning a number of boxers fighting out of the Espinoza Boxing Club. In previewing and reviewing bouts with Martin Castillo and Israel Vazquez, I became familiar with the tip of the ice burg of this stable. In covering the bouts of Miguel Angel Huerta, Manny Roman, and Jesus Hernandez, I learned more about what lies beneath the surface. In order to have a full understanding of what the Espinoza Boxing Club is all about, I needed to reveal the base of the ice burg itself: Frank Espinoza, Sr.
What I found was a man void of the bravado we so often see pouring out of boxing managers and promoters. I found a selflessness that these same figures only talk about having, but never truly reveal. I found a man with a genuine passion for the sport and sense of responsibility for his fighters. Humbleness, selflessness, passion, and responsibility: traits the Espinoza Boxing Club passes on to all of its fighters.
I wondered why everybody doesn’t know about Frank Espinoza, Sr. and wanted to help rectify that.
1.) Frank, discuss the genesis of the Espinoza Boxing Club. How did you first get into the fight game and how did you get to where you are today?
FE- As a kid, I grew up with boxing in my household. My father would take me to local shows and they were always fun to attend. As I got older, I was really good friends with ex-bantamweight champ Alberto Davila. One day, Albert asked me to work his corner and ever since that day I knew I wanted to be involved with boxing. I started managing fighters and have been fortunate to have five world champions. I’ve also been fortunate to be inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame and have participated in one of the greatest trilogies ever.
2.) What approach do you take toward discovering new talent? What characteristics are you looking for in a fighter?
FE- Well I have certain people that I trust in the business who look out for amateurs. They are my eyes that look out for good amateurs. From there I will get tapes and see if I’m interested. I like my fighters having a good amateur background, good work ethics and who are serious about boxing.
3.) What is your philosophy in bringing a fighter up through the sport and into the rankings?
FE- Well, in the beginning of their careers, I’m a little choosy about who they fight. But when I feel they are ready, I will begin to test my fighters. I will purposely put them in tough because I want to know what type a fighter I have. You can’t always protect a fighter all the time, because in the end you’re doing more harm than good.
4.) When do you know that a certain fighter isn’t right for your stable or that you’ve made a wrong decision concerning a fighter’s path?
FE- Depending on how a fighter reacts to my "test", I may let him go. But just because a fighter loses doesn’t mean I will let him go immediately. There have been cases were a fighter impress me even in a loss. I’m not perfect and early in my career I did make some mistakes, but I’ve learned from them and those mistakes have helped me become a better manager today.
5.) Have you ever told a fighter that enough’s enough? How would you convince one of your fighters that it’s time to hang up the gloves?
FE- Yes, I have and it’s a hard thing to do. Since, I treat my fighters like family, it’s never an easy thing to do. I like to be upfront with my fighters. If I feel a fighter may not have it anymore, I will sit down with them and talk to them. As a manager, it’s my job to look out for the best interest of my fighters, including their health. Boxing is a brutal sport; it’s important to have someone who really cares for his fighters and will always look after them.
6.) Outside of the mainstream fighters in your stable, who are the boxers you are most excited about in the coming years? Where’s the best potential right now?
FE- I’m really excited about all my fighters. Manny Roman is a good boxer puncher and is tall for his weight class at 112lbs. He also is coming off a big win against Sergio Espinoza. Jesus ”Pollo” Hernandez, who fights at featherweight, seems to be improving and coming into his own. I also have two lightweights, Luis Ramos and Carlos Molina, whom I feel will be making some noise in the future. Overall, I feel I have a good stable.
7.) If you could work with any fighter in the professional game that you aren’t right now, who would it be?
FE- I don’t have any person in mind, but I would like to eventually sign a heavyweight. That’s a division that I have always had an interest in.
8.) What do you hope to accomplish in the fight game before your time in the sport is done?
FE- I still have things that I want to accomplish. I would like to open up my own promotional company, hopefully, very soon. I also want to help my fighters reach their goals of being world champions and teach my son, Frankie, all that I know, so he can be successful in boxing as well.
April 15, 2008