|Interview: Contender Star Freddy Curiel Headlines Promotional Debut
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (June 19, 2009)
The place was a small, anonymous and shopworn gym right on the edge of Hackensack, NJ. Bordered up front doors and windows, a couple of decrepit vehicles to either side of the one-story building, you’d have to keep your eyes peeled to find it. Upon making the (illegal) left-turn into the parking lot and slowing down enough to get a good look at my surroundings, I wasn’t sure that I was in the right spot. Parking the car and taking a walk around the perimeter of the place, you’d figure it was lifeless, minus the white construction van and the day-care center on the other side of the lot.
Apparently, MapQuest had failed me yet again. That, or maybe I’d gotten there too late, or even took down the wrong address.
But make no mistake, this is where Boxing LIVES. Right on the edge of the inner-city where the regulars motivational fires are fueled by their avoidance of succumbing to the woes of the streets. In retrospect, it looked like any other Boxing Gym in America (well, aside from Freddie Roach’s WildCard in L.A.). All I had to do was find which of these doors opened up, which I finally did around the back of the building after damn near breaking and entering similar looking door from where I thought I heard the sound of a punching bag being punished emanate from.
I proceeded into a lobby area, one decorated with pictures of past great fighters, present day fighters and patrons of the gym, past promotional posters and a couple of Golden Gloves Championship belts on display through the glass in the corner. I took a second to admire the layout before passing through the door on the right, which led to an impressive, fairly new looking boxing ring. I leaned up against a pole about 4 feet from the ring and took in the heated sparring going on between two younger amateur fighters.
Just as I began to get into it, I heard a whistle.
“Yo, right here man!”
That’s where the man of the hour, Contender Season Two star, “Furious” Freddy Curiel, sat on a bench in crunch position along with his trainer, partner in his new Promotional outfit, and former professional fighter, Dominick Scibetta.
Introductions and formalities out of the way, we hit the ground running, conversing on things ranged from Ray Mercer knocking out Tim Sylvia on a Mixed Marital Arts card last week, to Miguel Cotto’s split decision win over Joshua Clottey, and back to Freddy’s own upcoming, and homecoming, fight this Friday night in Dover, NJ. Eventually, Freddy would get back into training as Dominick and I continued the conversation.
We took a walk around the gym as I was introduced to a few up-and-comers, and when Dominick went to weigh Freddy in the locker room, I said hello to a few old friends I’d recognized from the Joe Grier Boxing Academy in Paterson. Dominick returned a short while later with the results.
“One-hundred, sixty-three pounds! (Though a Jr. Middleweight, Freddy’s fighting at Middleweight for the vacant WBF Americas Title.) He looked at me like something was wrong I said no, keep eating! This isn’t our normal division anyway, we’re right on schedule.”
Again, we began to talk boxing, and after looking at an old John Duddy promotional fighter, Dominick reminded me that Duddy had come down to 154.
“You think that’d be a big fight out here?” he said grinning.
“You don’t think John’s a little too big for Freddy?” I asked him.
“Not at all! He’s about my height (about 6’ tall) with longer arms, but he never moves his head. Freddy wouldn’t get hit.”
Emerging right on cue, Freddy joins us and we make our way back through the lobby and into an adjacent room, which houses a nice sized office. There are a couple of chairs set up on the right wall, and a loveseat in front of a glass table with a phone, a few Bobby Gunn Tomasz Adamek fight posters with ticket offers, and a computer on a desk in the back of the room, showing Freddy’s Facebook page that he’d apparently forgotten to log out of. I sit behind the table, Freddy grabs the chair to the left of me and Dominick makes himself comfortable in the seat directly across. One problem.
“Wait a second, I forgot my voice recorder.” I ran out of the house at about 5:30 am earlier in the day to get to school, and didn’t have a chance to stop home in between class letting out and high-tailing it to the gym.
“(Laughs) Man, no problem.” Freddie handed me a stack of promo posters for Friday’s event, his first as a lead promoter under the name Furious Sports Entertainment. I end up grabbing about five of them and doing the interview on the back, a niece piece of memorabilia down the road I figure.
Generally, Furious Promotions was a company started by Curiel, Scibetta and a few others, to give more back to the fighter, the sport and bring fighting back to it’s local roots among many other objectives. Freddy starts off with how the idea came to fruition, and goes into a little more detail.
“Furious Promotions is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and even though we’ve got a long way to go, it feels good to get it started. I had been telling Dominick about it for the longest, I want to learn from the mistakes I’ve made in this game and apply that to bringing along my little brother (David “The Riot” Roman Curiel, a 70-12 amateur who will be making his pro debut at 154 on the undercard), and I wanted to help the talented fighters around our way who’ve had the tools but haven’t gotten the breaks. We just signed “The Shark” Archak Termeliksetian (of Paterson) and Jerson Ravelo (a Newark product, the same NJ city that bore Middleweight great, Marvelous Marvin Hagler), my brother from another. A couple of great guys, who haven’t been on the right side of the business part of the game.”
Dominick, nodding his head in agreement, cuts in. He’s easily the more vocal of the duo, but these guys are one in the same. Throughout the course of the evening, there was many an instance Freddy would fade to the background, or Dominick would run outside and in the others absence, they would tell me about the same thing on a variety of different subjects, a bond that is the structure for the family-like atmosphere they provide their fighters and trainers.
“It was all my idea!” he relays, jokingly, in regards to the promotional company. “No, like Freddy said, he’d brought this up to me a lot in the past, and we found ourselves in a position to make something happen. Along with everything else he told you, he wanted to take care of his brother, provide him with the breaks that he never got you know.”
Freddie cuts in once again.
“I’m where I am now because of mistakes I made and I feel like I’ve got to help out other fighters. I would take fights on short notice, sometimes a day or two before. I would fight out of my weight class for opportunities and that kind of thing, because of the monetary situation. Granted, I wasn’t this decorated Olympian boxer that got a $100,000 signing bonus right out of the gate to turn my full attention to training and fighting, I came up the hard way. I was waking up at 4:30 am to run everyday, because I had to work a full-time job, sometimes 16 hour days, while playing daddy to my own 4 kids. That’s where the promotional thing comes in, we want to help these guys along because you can’t do this to the highest level and work a full-time job. My brother was a real good amateur and we want to bring him along so that he’s got a shot, and we want to get a team around our guys like Jerson and Archak, and give them that camaraderie and confidence, but also bring them along the right way.”
“The combined record of the guys that Archak lost to is 138-3! That’s ridiculous, no one should be fighting that tough all the time, not out of the gate.” Scribetti chimes in.
Freddy himself hasn’t always had his best interests catered too. He lost his very first professional fight to Frankie Toledo Jr., another Paterson resident and former IBF Featherweight Champion(Ironically enough, Frankie Toledo Sr. would end up joining us in the office a short time later). It seems a bit absurd that the people around you would throw you to the shark, no pun intended, in your first pro bout. Frankie was already ten fights in and on his way to the top of the division for a spell, while Freddy was a skinny, seventeen-year old kid. It becomes increasingly apparent though, if you don’t appear to be marketable, whether it be the lack of a million dollar smile, a long prosperous amateur career, or an Olympic medal, you are truly a fighter by trade. A man who does it for the love of the sport and to put food on the table. You give your all to your profession, even when the shady politics and unsavory characters involved don’t give you anything back.
Freddy jumps in as if he’s read my mind.
“If you’re not willing to commit your life to this, then you don’t belong in our sport. Point blank. You do it for the love and you give that love back to the sport where you can.”
“Absolutely,” says Dominick, “There isn’t as much to go around anymore. Back in the 80’s, guys were fighting each other every month and an undercard bout was worth about $40,000. The economic scale has gotten real top-heavy today and some of these guys, not everyone of course there are some great people I’ve met, but some of these guys make it big and don’t give anything back. Like, let’s say you’ve got this huge-name, championship level guy who fights on a Major Network or PPV, why can’t he come back around and sign some autographs at an amateur event?! And that’s not even all about the money, just think of how many fans he’d bring to the sport?”
“It’s just that love man, like I said.” Freddy continues, “I always took my son to the gym from time to time. He sparred for the first time when he was 13 and when he got home he told me, “Daddy, I give you all the respect in the world. You work, you run, you take care of us, and you do this everyday. I just tried it for a few minutes and I can’t even move my arms!”
“It’s all love man. But being around it so long, you do start to look at things like you need to get what you deserve from boxing, and that’s what Furious Promotions & Sports Entertainment is about. It’s hard to be a fighter without help.”
True to form, these are things similar to what Dominick had been telling me not one hour ago. He adds on to that and picks up where Freddie left off.
“That’s why this is coming together so perfectly. Since the Contender and the Ross Minter fight, Freddy gets love everywhere he goes.”
Freddie adds, “Man, after that fight, I walked out of the arena and it was crazy! There was a girl reaching her hand out like, “Oh Freddy please, let touch your hand, you’re great!” So I give her my hand, then she’s asking me for the towel I had around my neck. I told her, nah, this has blood on it and she was like, “I don’t care, anything I can take! That was a little wild for me!”
“Exactly!” Dominick says, laughing. “People love Freddy. This guy is charming, charismatic, well-spoken, humble, and very intelligent. Like, he can walk into a Mazda dealership in his sweats, and walk out with a new sponsor for the next fight, you know? That’s a quality that not everyone is blessed with and that’s something we’re trying to secure for our fighters. Sponsorships, endorsements, we’re waiting on something from Under Armour, we’re trying to get a deal in place with The Vitamin Shoppe where our fans would get a 20% discount for attending our fights and those kinds of things. We’re going to teach these guys a little bit of everything they need to know to be successful in this sport. And we need to bring the sport back local. Did you know this is Freddy’s first fight in NJ in 8 years?”
It had been that long, huh? Curiel last fought Jose Zaragoza in Atlantic City back in 2001. He would lose his next fight to Jose Celeya and hang up the gloves for four years before Dominick talked him back fighting, and when the Contender came calling in 2006, it was a good thing that he did.
“The Contender was a true blessing man. Those guys were good to us, we got to be on TV and fight for our careers. The only messed up thing was, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement to appear on the show, so I had to lie to EVERYONE! The only person I was allowed to tell was my wife. I’d get calls left and right from people asking me if I was going to be on The Contender, and I had to shoot it down like, no way, I’m just trying to get back into the sport. Even after the show aired, everyone was calling me like hey, I just saw you, but I still couldn’t say much because the results weren’t known yet! That was tough! But it was great, and it did a lot for me and I’m very appreciative.”
Dominick shares these sentiments, but also picks up on something he feels was missed.
“Our promotional company is derived from what the Contender didn’t do. Everything was awesome, but they never brought any of the guys back home. They should’ve brought Freddy back to Jersey for a few fights and bring that local crowd out, along with the guys who caught it on TV that would’ve came out. There was another fighter somewhere, a real ordinary guy, who fought in his hometown after similar exposure and they were able to gross $300,000 for that fight! It was only natural to take Freddy and this business and bring some excitement back to the local scene, where it all started. From that show, name me a guy that was more popular than Freddy? And, give me another fighter bigger in Jersey right now, outside of Arturo Gatti, than Freddy. The state loves him and we can’t wait until this Friday night’s show, I have a gut feeling it’s going to be a great fight. We’ve also got a deal in place with GOFIGHTLIVE.com. They’re going to be streaming the fight live for just $10 dollars! Everyone that complains about these PPV’s and these dull businessmen fights now has their opportunity to choose. If you want real boxing from its roots, you should support this fight, and any other around here for that matter. We want to help everyone, we’re not looking to compete with everyone and make enemies. If Main Event or somebody has an upcoming promotion, you bring it directly to me and I’ll personally make sure that the announcer tells the crowd about it. That’s how I think things should be. We’ll also be handing out fliers to our next event this Friday when you get there.”
The ideas being put forth all sound great. But the reality is, many an organization has been down this road and failed. Inevitably, you have to wonder what will be different this time.
Dominick takes this one.
“The love for the sport, the appreciation for the fighter, the idea to give back to boxing and to bring it back locally, and basically because we HAVE to make it work this time. I’ve been around this sport for a long time, and I’ve lost everything. Money, the love of my life, all because I’d rather paint someone’s house at 10 pm to make ends meet than get a real job, because I knew I had to be at the gym in the morning. I’ve loved and lost a lot to and for this sport and we’re so close now, that I would kill whoever’s standing in the way of this! Hard-work, dedication, media-training, family that’s what it’s going to take.”
With most of our talk devoted to this new business venture, we haven’t heard much on the fight. Not to worry, Freddy’s face is showing the wear-n-tear of good, hard sparring and he’s ready to put his company on the map.
“It’s going to be a beautiful boxing lesson. I can get in there and mix it up, I can keep him at distance and make him miss! I will not disappoint, this is a huge fight for me being back in front of my home fans for the first time in 8 years and I’m ready to go! Camp’s been great, everything is on target and (Francisco Rueben of Florida) Osario’s got a problem Friday, he minds well not even get on that plane!”
Also in action:
Alexis Mejias of Paterson, now fighting out of the Bronx, Elvin Sanchez, Donald Bernard, both of Paterson, and Willie Palms of Jersey City, NJ. Peruvian-born, North Bergen based Light Welterweight, Juan Zegarra, 1-0 (1), as a pro and a 200+ fight amateur career, will also be in action.
To read more and get in contact with Furious Sports Entertainment Promotions, visit them at FreddyCuriel.com. You can also find Freddy and the rest of Team Furious on Facebook.
This Friday Nights, June 19, 2009, card takes place at the Baker Theatre in Dover, NJ and tickets priced at $100 VIP, $60, and $40 are still available. The doors open at 6:30 pm and the first bout gets underway at 7:30 pm. You can also attend the weigh-in, which will be held at the same location tomorrow(Thursday, June 18th, 2009) afternoon at 5 pm.
If you can’t attend the fight live, go over to GOFIGHTLIVE.com where the 6 fight-card will be streamed as it happens, for only $10.
To be featured in the Doghouse Boxing Mailbag, send all questions and comments to
Visit Brandon at
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2009