A Changing Of The Guard At Ten Goose
Nunez Is new head trainer at 10 Goose Gym
By Steve Kim: As you walk into the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in Van Nuys, a familiar face is no longer there on a daily basis. That would be noted trainer Joe Goossen, who has the likes of Michael Nunn, Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, Joel Casamayor and Diego Corrales among others on his résumé. Nowadays, this gym, located on Van Nuys Blvd. and Friar St., is under the direction of one Ricky Funez. If you’ve watched this sport long enough, you’ve undoubtedly seen Funez for years but never knew exactly who he was.
Chances are you’ve probably seen him grow up as Funez was a mainstay in Goossen’s corner for years as an assistant. After years of serving as an apprentice, he is now running this gym with the help of Jorge Diaz.
“It feels great; after being here since I was 12 years old, Joe gave me the opportunity to take over and try to establish a name for myself- like every other trainer that wants to have the best fighters out there- it’s a great opportunity that I have right now,” said Funez, who literally left his mark on this gym in the beginning.
“I came here as a gangbanger first, actually,” admitted Funez, laughing at the memories of his day as an incorrigible youth. “I was getting out of school and I saw this big ol’ mirror and I was hanging around a bunch of cholos back then and I tagged on Joe’s gym and I put ‘Lil’ Daffy’ and six weeks later, I was walking by and this big white boy comes out. He goes, ‘Hey, you, come here! You‘Lil’ Daffy’?’ I go, ‘No, no, no,’ and Larry Loy, who grew up here in my neighborhood, he goes, ‘Yeah, that’s him’ and Joe says, ‘You little f**kin’sh*t! Erase this from the mirror!’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll erase it’and I never showed up till like six months later and I came back and I started out helping Joe. I started sparring with his little, young amateurs that he had and he used to throw me in there with Gabriel and Rafael and ever since then, I got stuck with him.
“It’s been 24 years.”
Funez began like many others at the gym, cleaning up, organizing the equipment, picking up and chaperoning boxers and carrying the spit bucket during fights. Basically, as Funez says, “Everything. And then I started working with Michael Nunn, Jeremy Williams, all of them. Just carrying the bucket, y’ know, learning everything Joe was teaching them, how to wrap hands and all that. Still, to this day, Joe still comes and guides me because I still talk to him every day.”
Years ago, he had it in mind that training boxers could be his career. “After I turned pro, I was not a good pro fighter,” he admits, “but I got the experience to get in there and see how it felt and I said, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’” At that point, being a professional tagger was probably no longer an option. “And always, Joe says, ‘Rick, teach, train,’ and I said, ‘Y’ know what? I think I’m going to do that. Someday I can have my own gym,’ and the opportunity came right now.”
And what better way than to start a gym than one that has been established for years? Funez believed changing its name would’ve been foolish (and it’s not clear if Goossen would’ve let that happen anyway) but as you stroll inside, you can already see the mark Funez has left. There is a new floor, a renovated restroom and shower area, a new equipment locker, a fresh new coat of paint and a glass case selling “Ten Goose Boxing” t-shirts. The facelift looks good.
“I have to be more creative to bring income,” said Funez, who equates this to being a first time homeowner. “I have to do a lot of advertising on this gym, Craigslist, t-shirts now, something that Freddie Roach does. There are always people that want to get in shape. I have my private clients and I have a certain time for the fighters. So that’s how I make my living now.”
Diaz, a former super bantamweight, was best known in these circles as a solid sparring partner who, for years, gave good work to the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Dimitry Kirilov, Gerry Penalosa, Billy Dib, Michael Katsidis, Ben Tackie, Bobby Pacquiao, Rey Bautista, the Ruelas brothers and Israel Vazquez among others at gyms like Ten Goose and the Wild Card Boxing Club for the better part of a decade-and-a-half. He says of venturing out on his own, “I still think I need to prove myself to a degree. I’m working right now with amateurs. I’ve worked with the likes of Jesus Soto-Karass, Edison Miranda. I was a sparring partner for Johnny Molina, I helped him for the [Hank] Lundy fight and other fights. I actually took charge with Oscar Meza his last fight; we lost the fight but I still need to prove myself. Right now, I’m trying to establish myself training kids and amateurs and we’ll see. I got three kids who in year or two may turn pro and that’s when I’ll see if I’m willing to take that next step.”
The bottom line is that boxing, before anything, is a labor of love. You don’t necessarily do this for the money- because, most likely, you’re not going to make a ton of it, at least early on.
“Yeah, I think you have to love it,” affirmed Diaz, a personal trainer for 12 years, brought on board by Goossen on a full-time basis to this gym back in 2009. “When I was a fighter, even though my career never prospered, I’ve always loved it. I’ve always loved the challenge. I’ve always liked- even though I was a sparring partner- I felt like I was amongst the best, sparred the best throughout the world, mainly Manny Pacquiao for a few fights. So it’s the love of it, that’s the reason why I’m still continuing. I’ve had people tell me that people die poor in the sport but y’ know, you’d rather die poor doing something you love, than be rich and doing something you hate.”
And Goossen? Well, the reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated. He’s still in the game (if not necessarily at the gym Monday through Saturday like years past).
“I told Ricky and Jorge, ‘Look, here’s the bottom line: you guys have been with me for 20 years- or more, to tell you the truth- and it’s time for you guys to step up, get out of my shadow and start trying to get out there and make a name for yourself. Instead of being in my corner, go up and make your own fighters while right now, I’m part-time working the movie industry.’ I’m working right now with Rob Schneider and it’s very exciting for me to work with him and it’s a good business move for me at this particular moment to venture into other things I’ve wanted to do and the opportunity presented itself. Again, I’ve only been out of the gym for just a few months because Rob Schneider has this new show that’s on the air and I was with him in preparation and during it, which is now and hopefully it gets a new season after the eight episodes they shot.”
“Rob”is currently running on CBS and right now, Goossen’s job is to keep the comedian in fighting shape. However, by no means are his days of preparing boxers over. It’s the day-to-day grind of starting from scratch that he no longer desires.
“Oh, please, look, here’s the bottom line to that,” he explained. “Again, it’s time for Robert and Jorge to start four-round, six-round fighters. I’ve been there, done that- as they say- and what I want to do is come in like I did with Diego Corrales. He was a veteran who still had a lot left in him. He was a top contender and the situation with he and I, it turned out be an incredible three-year run and, yeah, I’m available for guys like that, that are looking to maybe getting a new lease on life. Maybe their careers hit a little bit of a roadblock and sometimes change is good and I’m looking for those kinds of guys-if they’re out there.”
Goossen was called on by Shane Mosley for his rematch with Winky Wright back in 2004. With Goossen in the corner, they came very close to winning the decision in the return bout. Nowadays, he wants to be a hired gun, the troubleshooter brought in for the big fights. But Goossen says, “The day-to-day, four-round fighter routine, I’m kinda beyond that now. Not that I’m being persnickety but I’ve got two guys that have been in my gym since they’ve been teenagers and I really think it’s time for them to step up and put themselves in a better position to where they can make a living for themselves. They’re still young; they’re in their early 30’s and this way they’re going to get- with the responsibility I’m giving them- more authority and with that, you can make a niche for yourself.
“And that’s what I think needed to be done.”
Goossen had soured on the whole process of creating and cultivating a fighter for years, investing his sweat equity and then being jilted as boxers began the process of making real money. Several years ago, it was Robert Guerrero; most recently, it was the hard-hitting Molina, who left him after upsetting Lundy. He wouldn’t call it the last straw but he did admit, “It really left a bad taste in my mouth,” and “one of the many disloyal actions from boxing people.” Funez says, “I think the last straw was when Molina left, the whole break-up and all that because Joe shows love to his fighters, including [Joel] Casamayor, when Casamayor left him, Corrales, I could go on, Michael Nunn, all those years that he spent with these fighters. I think it was to the point where Joe said, ‘I don’t have no pro fighters. Why am I going to keep doing this right now with the gym?’”
It’s clear; while Goossen loves boxing, he hates many of the elements that go into it. He needed a respite from the gym and the paycheck from Schneider and other Hollywood clients he’s picked up doesn’t hurt either.
The dirty little secret in keeping a gym afloat is that, unless you have earners like a Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. like Freddie Roach does, you need clients that aren’t pro boxers but regular civilians who pay their monthly dues and take boxing lessons. Think about it; a trainer can work with a four-round fighter for two months, six days a week and if that boxer makes a thousand dollars, if the trainer takes his standard ten-percent cut for that fight ($100), you can do the math- he’s making much less than minimum wage per hour. Goossen, for his work with Schneider, probably gets a set amount each week (with no threat of postponed bouts).
And actors are probably much more loyal.
The rates at Ten Goose are $150 a month, which include three one-hour training sessions per week with Funez or Diaz. To just use the gym with no personal training, it’s $100. The gym is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. Mickey Goldmill might be turning over in his grave at the thought of non-professionals hitting his heavy bags but the reality is that you need them in order to survive nowadays.
“It is,” agreed Funez, who points out that with fighters, “in order for you to get paid, you have to wait six months for a fighter to fight, so I had to be creative with other people.”
Funez, whose most noted professional client is Fernando Guerrero, is now a full-fledged trainer. He’s the captain of his own ship, taking the lessons he’s learned from Goossen. When asked which one stuck with him the most, after contemplating it for a few seconds, he said, “There’s so many of them. One of them is- ‘Work hard at it.’”
It looks like Andy Lee is no longer in the running to face WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on June 16th at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The newest name gaining steam to face Junior is Martin Murray, who gave WBA beltholder Felix Sturm all he could handle in his last outing.
Lee’s frustrated promoter, Lou DiBella, told Maxboxing on Tuesday, “I’m not denigrating Murray but we thought it was a good chance we were going to get the fight and apparently, the Chavez team changed their minds and right now, we’re in an environment where some fighters can pick and choose who they want to fight every time they’re out there and other guys can’t. The playing field is not level and unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. So is Andy disappointed? He’s bitterly disappointed, so we’re just going to look for the best opportunity for him now. And that’s all we can do.”
Lee had moved off the opening slot on HBO for March 17th (supporting Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin) in hopes of securing a title bout. Initially, they thought they could get Sturm in the ring before this opportunity at Chavez failed to materialize. Like the recognized middleweight champion of the world, Martinez, Lee is promoted by DiBella, so is there any chance of him getting the winner of Martinez-Macklin?
“Yeah,” said DiBella, “I think so or Daniel Geale (who has the IBF belt) or somebody of significance but it’s too bad. I think Chavez would’ve been a helluva fight and obviously, it had a lot of recognition.”
Junior welterweight prospect Antonio Orozco, who improved to 13-0 with nine stoppages on Friday night at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, opened a few eyes with his strong performance, a fourth round TKO win over Rodolfo Armenta.
Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez said, “I like him very, very much. He’s a very good fighter. He’s got a pleasing style. He reminds me of a young Julio Cesar Chavez; he really does. He throws so many punches but the combinations he throws downstairs, upstairs. He’s not a big, big puncher but he’s a volume puncher and he’s got a decent punch. So to me, he’s like a young Julio Cesar Chavez.”
Look for Orozco, who originally hails from Garden City, Kansas (like Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz), to return in May, possibly on the Miguel Cotto-Floyd Mayweather undercard at the MGM Grand.
A bout between WBC featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez and Daniel Ponce de Leon would be a hotly-anticipated slugfest. Any chance of seeing it?
“I’ve had numerous conversations. That’s a fight I’ve tried making back when Jhonny was with us and we haven’t been able to get there yet,” said Gomez, whose company represents Ponce de Leon. “But I had some very interesting conversations with Jhonny’s manager, Oswaldo Kuchle, earlier this year and they have a mandatory they have to do right now and what he told me was, ‘Look, let us get past this mandatory. If everything goes our way [and] we win, we would love to sit down with you and discuss the fight.’ So I think, realistically, September for the possible pay-per-view we’re going to do. I think that’s more of a realistic date to make that fight and it’s a fight I’ve wanted to make since they were both champions with us, when Jhonny was the ‘18-pound champion and Ponce was a ‘22-pound champion.”
Look for Ponce de Leon to return sometime in May in Mexico.
The address for the Ten Goose Gym is 14420 Friar St., Van Nuys, CA 91401...For the record, I had Marco Huck beating Alexander Povetkin, 116-112...Forgot to mention this before but the six-round draw between Richard Contreras and Daniel Quevedo that took place at the Doubletree in Ontario this past Friday night was quite the battle and the best fight I’ve seen thus far in 2012...Schaefer tells me that Golden Boy is committed to going through with the bout between Winky Wright and Peter Quillin. I guess it just won’t be in Las Vegas...I don’t care if “RG3” runs like Usain Bolt; Andrew Luck is still the no-brainer top pick in the NFL draft...With Kobe’s broken nose and concussions, it turns out the NBA All-Star Game has more hitting than the Pro Bowl...If every race were like the Daytona 500, I just might watch more NASCAR...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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February 29, 2012
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