|Doghouse Boxing Sits Down With Light Welterweight Contender Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa Part 2
Interview by Bob Carroll, Doghouse Boxing (June 1, 2009)
Light welterweight contender and former NABF light welterweight champion Frankie “El Gato” Figueroa, 20-3 (13), is one of the most energetic fighters I have ever spoken with in my media career. At the young age of 30, Gato has not only planned his boxing career, but planned what will happen after his career. He has also made plans to help young fighters, just entering the sport, to stay away from the pitfalls they may face as professional fighter. He is a fighter that makes no excuses for his losses, and looks forward to his future.
Doghouse Boxing picks up on part two of this interview with “El Gato” Figueroa. In this part of the interview, Gato speaks about the “feud” between he and Hector Camacho Jr., his involvement with the Fresh Air Fund organization and his future plans.
Bob Carroll: At the time of this interview, you are in Winter Haven, Florida helping Andre Berto prepare for his defense against Juan Urango. How is Berto coming along and do you have a prediction for this upcoming fight?
Gato Figueroa: Andre Berto is doing very well; he is doing very well with sparring 12 rounds. Actually I have been moved down from number 2 man to number four man, because they know that I can apply the same pressure that Juan Urango will apply on the 30th. It’s fun, as far as the predictions, it will be a tough fight for both fighters and the fight will be won by the smartest guy. That’s all I can say about the fight. I don’t really have a prediction, it’s who can play the chess game better.
BC: Recently, you have had some heated words with Hector Camacho Jr. What was said between you two and how did this, for the lack of a better word, “Feud” actually start?
GF: Bob, this Camacho dude, this guy is hilarious. About five years ago, in my first fight, I fought Richard Dean and in the first round I got cut severely above my eye and I remember it was with a head butt. It was a clash of heads and I remember telling myself that I couldn’t quit like Camacho Jr. I was more like being the Puerto Rican pride of New York, you know? That was my thing; I was the New Yorican of New York! I didn’t want to go out that way, I didn’t want to be a sucker like Camacho Jr, quitting against Jessie James Leija a few years back. Five years later, I send a friend request to him on Facebook, and he comes back with “Yo, you’re the dude that I don’t want to quit like Camacho”! I don’t know who you think you are” and he just kept going on and on. I told him that I came to him with open arms, but he went after me again saying” I heard that you were a cool cat but you are bugging!” I said that all of what was said was five years before, but you are not good at boxing. You have about 48 wins and however many losses, but you fought all bums and you still have losses. How can you do that? The guys you fight would never compare to the guys I fight. Guys like Emmanuel Augustus and Randall Bailey; you would never be able to compare your opponents to mine! You had your opportunity, but ended up undisciplined. You should be fighting in the heavyweight division, that’s how undisciplined you are! You can’t even do kick boxing no more! You are using my name now; I’m not using your name! We kept going back and forth, he started mentioning how he was from Harlem and I told him that no one cared if you are from Harlem! No one in Harlem even knows you exsist! You had a great fighter in your father, but your father should be pissed because you are letting down the family name! You’re a bum dude, nothing more than a bum! He got to me because I went to him with open arms and he attacked me about something that was said five years ago.
BC: Is there a chance that you two will meet up in the ring?
GF: Yeah (laughing), this guy is so hilarious. This guy is talking about fighting at 147. 147? Are you serious? He hasn’t seen 147 since 2002! You are never gonna see 147 you undisciplined sucker! Come on man; don’t act like you could make that weight! If you do, I’m gonna put a butt whipping on you like I wanted to five years ago! You can’t get there you undisciplined sucker!
BC: You host a site on Facebook and on YouTube called “Team Gato”. Let our readers know what this is and how they can look it up.
GF: Well in boxing you always have to have a Plan B, you can’t focus on just boxing full fledged. Once you lose, once you are on a roll, for example I was on a roll for four years until I was side tracked by Randall Bailey. Let’s say I decided I want to quit, what do I fall back on? I mean, what is there to do besides boxing? After boxing, you are nothing, you are a has been. So to help plan for that day, I started my own company called Gato Productions. Within this production company, we sell wholesale t-shirts and now we have started another business. With Team Gato on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, it is about the fans, the public, and my supporters. It’s about boxing life, like if you want to learn a technique, I can teach you and give you examples of why and why not. You’re a grown man or woman and you can make the choices of what you want to do with the examples. I don’t try to say “You should do this or that”, that way no one will come back and say, “Gato gave me the wrong answer.” I give you the options and it’s up to you to do what you think will work for your style. On You Tube, I have videos on how to hit a speed bag, how to jump rope, how to position yourself in the ring, stuff like that. There is an Army saying “Keep it simple, stupid”. If you are in a car on the highway, and the car goes out and you pull over. You don’t call your husband or your wife, you get out and check the battery and that could be the problem. Keep it simple, don’t just think your car broke down because of engine problems; it could be as simple as the battery cable. In boxing, I teach how to jump rope very simply, as well as speed bag and heavy bag. People think that hitting the heavy bag is just going up and hitting it wherever, but there are techniques to it. The heavy bag should be perceived as a person who is in front of you not just something swinging back and forth in front of you. So I teach people the mechanics of boxing. It’s on You Tube under Team Gato, on Facebook, All day everyday Team Gato and on MySpace.com\teamgato. I hope to motivate about life, women, guys, finance, I like to think that I a big brother to the whole world and people can feel me.
BC: Gato, let’s break away from boxing for a second. I want to ask you about something that is near to my own heart the Fresh Air Fund. Can you tell our readers what service the Fresh Air Fund provides?
GF: The Fresh Air Fund started back in 1892 in New York City. What the program entails is it gives minorities of New York will meet host families in the colonial states (laughs) , Canada and Mexico. How it works is families from other states like Conn., Mass. places like that host kids in their homes for a period of time. Kids from the age of 6-17 request to be part of the Fresh Air Fund and are accepted if they qualify. It is generally kids whose parents aren’t able to afford many things, much less to send their kids on a vacation. So it turns out to be like a vacation for the kids and you grow attached to another family. While they are staying with the host families, the children learn values and another way of life. Most times, it is the first time the kid has left the city in his life and it’s an eye opener. The first year the kid stays with the host family for two weeks and then it goes to a month. It’s a great program. I was part of it from age 6 to age 17. With my host family, I learned how to ski, milk cows, and work hard. It was a great feeling! I learned how to speak properly, being I could not talk slang in the country, so I had to learn the proper way of speaking. It definitely changed my life and I owe a lot to the Fresh Air Fund. (www.freshair.org)
BC: When I was younger, my family hosted kids from the Fresh Air Fund. How are you still involved with the Fresh Air Fund?
GF: For my last fight, I stayed in my host family brother in Ft. Lauderdale. He’s got a real nice home and I was able to stay with him for five weeks. As far as my involvement in the Fresh Air Fund, there is nothing official, but they will call me to do speeches for the organization. When they call, I get up and run. They don’t pay me, but I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love it! With the Fund, I became a better person. It’s all about becoming a better person.
BC: So you are still in contact with your host family?
GF: Oh yeah, all the time. I haven’t spoken to them in a few months, but I see them at least once a year. In the winter time, we go skiing, in the summertime we just hang out or we collect hay and grass for the horses.
BC: What can we expect from Gato Figueroa in 2009?
GF: Right now I am in talks with Square Ring Promotions, which is Roy Jones Jr.’s promotional company and the last word was I got from them was a fight in August or July was being booked. So I am hoping to have two tune up fights and if that’s what they want, those two tune up fights will hopefully be in the UK. If that’s the case, I would love to fight in the UK. I have respectable fans over there. So hopefully the UK if everything goes right and then back to the US. I am not going to fight from the bottom; I am still ranked in the top ten in the world. Right now it’s just talking, no contract so far, just talking (laughing), so we’ll see what happens.
BC: Gato, you have the floor, what would you like to say to all of you fans and the readers of Doghouse Boxing?
GF: Thank you for the support and to Doghouse Boxing, for those who don’t know me, I am a very humble, confident fighter. I’m here to do much more for boxing, here to shake the ground of the boxing world. For the fans who know me and support Team Gato, you already know it baby! Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, TEAM GATO BABY! It’s not a saying, it’s a movement!
I'd like to thank Gato Figueroa for taking time out of his training schedule to do this interview. For more on Gato, listen to Bob Carroll, Butch and "THE Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. every Wednesday night from 8-9pm EST on Fightin' Words Radio Show. To listen live via the internet, go to http://1490wwpr.com and look for the "listen here" tab. Also, don’t forget to check out the show’s website at www.fightinwordsonline.com
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