Freddie Roach is boxing’s hottest trainer. Helping to mold the success of world champions such as Virgil Hill, Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan serves as a testament to his mighty talents. On Freddie Roach, a six-part documentary series from director Peter Berg, provides viewers an unrestricted look into the contemporary life of one of sports’ most sought after men and amply reveals that being Freddie Roach is hardly achieved on aptitude alone. Episode #1, entitled “Body Blow,” debuts tonight (Jan. 20) on HBO.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to review the first two episodes. The series starts in Las Vegas during fight week for the July 2011 Amir Khan-Zab Judah 140 pound championship bout. The footage contains minimal commentary, but audio from press conferences; a Roach acceptance speech at an awards banquet; and rarely-seen footage during an HBO fighter meeting containing Roach, Team Kahn and the network’s broadcast talent, is telling. Following Khan’s knockout victory, Roach’s celebrity is demonstrated as he poses for photos with over zealous fans amidst the glitzy Vegas backdrop.
Back home in Hollywood, episode #2, aptly called “The Wild Card,” features extensive footage from the trainer’s now-famous Wild Card Boxing Gym. World-class fighters like Pacquiao and Khan are seen working the mitts with Roach, while brother Pepper, one of the many Roach brothers who were encouraged to box by an apparently over bearing father, trains the rawest of amateurs. Roach himself was a successful lightweight in the 1980s and acknowledges that once he took boxing seriously, the required focus changed his life for good. Roach also comments briefly on what were the beginning stages and current condition of his Parkinson’s disease. What emerges in On Freddie Roach is a man constantly dealing with the challenge of managing super star athletes and their fragile psyches, in combination with his own extraordinary personal adversity and success. Roach does so at the highest level.
- Gregory Juckett
On Freddie Roach is a HBO Original Programming presentation and co-production of Film 44 and Atticus Entertainment production; executive produced by Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey, Jim Lampley and Michael Price; co-executive produced by Brendan Malloy and Emmett Malloy; produced by Matthew Goldberg and Christopher G. Cowen; editors, Brian Johnson and Stephen Strout; director of photography, Niles Harrison; camera operator, Brandon Carroll; music by The Antlers; original music by Rogue Wave.