‘On Freddie Roach’ is quietly compelling television
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 2, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Freddie Roach
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: HBO’s new series “On Freddie Roach” is a fascinating look at the day-by-day life of boxing’s most famous trainer.

Roach is a fighter. Not was, but is. He engaged in 55 professional bouts and countless street fights.

Roach never fought a boring fight in his life. His career included matches with champions Chacon, Haugen, and Camacho. A world title eluded him.

By the age of 27, his boxing career was over. The wear and tear of ten years in the ring was already beginning to show.

As HBO's new reality series makes painfully clear, Roach is now battling an even tougher foe. The name of the disease is Parkinson's. As in his fighting days, he refuses to back down. Roach deals with the effects of the debilatating disease on a daily basis. As the episode begins, Roach is in a car. He gazes outside into the darkness.

The scenes move like images. The camera pauses on Roach’s quivering left arm. The tremors come and go, sometimes attacking other parts of his body. As Roach instructs Amir Khan, he’s in perfect control. Next he's in ring working the mitts and talking angles with Khan.

The mitt work is intense, but Roach is at peace.

"I do what I love and love what I do," he says later with a wry smile.

In Las Vegas, Roach prepares Khan for his fight with Zab Judah. A few hours before the bout, Roach meticulously rips off equal parts of tape like a compulsive teacher. During the fight, Roach's voice is not loud enough to be heard over the Vegas crowd. It’s left to assistant Alex Ariza to relay his instructions. The system works perfectly as Khan stops Judah in round five.

"I found something I do better then boxing, and that’s training," replies Roach.

Unlike HBO’s popular series, ‘24/7’ there’s no attempt to glamorize Roach’s life. The edgy side of his personality is also revealed as he barks at his assistant.

The only voiceover is of Roach himself. Music is minimal with the exception of some haunting piano. The constant sounds are from Freddie Roach's world. There’s a rhythm to the thump of the mitts and the pummeling of the bags. It’s what every fighter and trainer hears everyday.

Later the viewer gets a glimpse of Roach the celebrity. He seems to like the attention at least for a little while. Back home in Hollywood he visits his doctor. He has two differring opinions on the prognosis of his disease. Roach ignores them both. He takes his medication and soldiers on, determined to continue to do what he loves, as long as he can.

In episodes two, Roach's older brother Pepper suffers a stroke. Roach wanders into to his office and breaks down, out of the view of the camera.

"On Freddie Roach" is a gripping and painful look at a remarkable life

Recent work from Raspanti:
Lightning Lonnie Smith: “My eyes are set on the WBC belt” John J. Raspanti
Seth Mitchell: “I’m ready to challenge the top heavyweights” John J. Raspanti
John Scully Interview: From ranking contender to championship trainer John J. Raspanti
"The Last Great Prizefight", by Steven Frederick - A Review John J. Raspanti
David Rodriguez: "I thank God I’m alive" - "The blood was squirting out like a sprinkler" John J. Raspanti

-- Questions/comments johnboxing1@hotmail.com

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