|Paddy Fitzpatrick; “Keep Smiling”
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr (June 17, 2007)
When most ponder on the subject of boxing they automatically conjure up thoughts of brutality, anger and just gruesome beat downs. Yes, there have been a few of those humdingers now and then throughout the history of the manly art of self defense, but the “sweet science” is not all about two men flinging their fists at one another with rage in their hearts and killing on their minds. It is just that, a science, and to be honest there are some out in the biz that are partaking in this bang for your buck sport not for self gain or the gore factor, but for the science, and mostly… the love of the game. They are the good guys in this business.
You think of boxing, you think of some intense gladiator whose only purpose is to maim his opponent, so when you run across the smiling Paddy Fitzpatrick you particularly wouldn’t assume that the Irishman would or could rip you a new one if needing to do so. Not only could he himself do the job, but he also teaches others to carry themselves in the warrior ways, but along with his skills and teaching of the fight world, he is one of the good guys in the boxing world, and it is about time a good one gets their due. So Doghouse Boxing pays homage to one of the good guys in the sport, Paddy Fitzpatrick.
You may not know the name Paddy Fitzpatrick, but you have seen his work. Virgil Hill, Michael Grant, William Guthrie, Laila Ali, Kelsey Jeffries as well as Lucia Rijker have been under his tutelage a time or two, all the way from coaching to nutrition Paddy has had his hand in the sport. From one time training partnerships with Buddy McGirt and Freddie Roach as well as managing and training the welterweight prospect Vatche Wartanian and the middleweight prospect Tonton Semakala he keeps himself busy.
All that have worked alongside Paddy have sung his praises, and his work with the youth gets my respect. Along with his endeavors the well-rounded family man has now opened up his very own gym in the United Kingdom where he has classes to not only teach the sport to the youth, but most importantly to develop discipline and the strengthening of the mind. So if you do not know the name Paddy Fitzpatrick, you do now, read on to see what this veteran of the sport has to say about his time in the sport, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: First off, what inspired you to be a boxing fan?
Paddy Fitzpatrick: Seeing it on TV as a kid. Any chance I got, I’d be front and center.
BH: You have worked with some very highly regarded fighters, can you name a few you have worked with and how was it with them? Let’s say the likes of Grant, Ali, Jeffries, etc.
PF: Working with any fighter is a buzz for me. I look at what needs polishing, and what needs more development, and set a plan. I study every fighter I work with. I want to know them inside out. When you work with world-class guys, the smallest things will make the biggest difference.
BH: Give us your thoughts on training and managing Wartanain and Semakala, and how hard is it separating the two?
PF: I think a trainer and manager are supposed to have the same interests. They both want to protect the fighter while there being developed, and growing in the pro game, with the right opponents etc. having said that, I took over as manager for the guys only because it was needed at the time. Managing is a full time commitment, and requires a lot of phone work and chasing people all the time. I’m happiest in the gym in the role of trainer. As it happens, I’ve just agreed a deal for 4 fights for Tonton, and 5 for Vatche, with his first in Finland, on May 4th. Hopefully, we’ll have all the loose ends tied up within the next week or so.
BH: What was it like working with Freddie Roach and what lessons did you take from your time with him?
PF: I loved working with Freddie, and I still think about things that we would do in the gym, regularly. He’s a great coach; it would be hard to mention any one thing in particular.
BH: What is it like working with Buddy McGirt?
PF: I love it, Buddy's my man. He’s an open book, every day with him, something new comes up. He’s got so much talented constantly in his gym; you see something different all the time. Then at the end of the week, we'd sit down and have a modelo (beer), and a couple of cigars, and talk boxing for a couple of hours. That’s my second home in Vero.
BH: How would you define your time in the boxing business?
PF: The lows are LOW, but you’ve got to learn from whatever situation is causing it, but the highs, WOW, there the best you can get, I can’t get enough of it.
BH: What are your boxing goals?
PF: To develop fighters, and help to bring out the best in them, and their abilities.
BH: What does boxing have to do, to regain the mainstream sporting audience?
PF: Competitive fights. Its been getting better over the last 3 to 5 years with the best guys facing off, but it needs to be the same at every level. You need to pick the right fights for your fighter when you’re bringing him through, but people don’t want to watch a class A fighter blowing away a D class. It doesn’t have to be all top fighters on a card, but the matching is so important, for the long-term health of the game. A good matchmaker is worth his weight in gold.
BH: Are women easier to train to fight than men, and if so why?
PF: At novice level, I found women have less preconceived ideas about what they should be able to do, and so there more open to just listen and follow instructions maybe.
BH: Tell me a about the boxing academy, which is opening this summer in the United Kingdom?
PF: Well, I moved back to England last November with the intention of opening my own gym, in order to work with my fighters, but since then, things have developed into a full scale boxing academy. We have a charity-based foundation set up, out of the academy, in order to provide opportunities for youth to qualify in courses for nutrition, sports massage, strength training, and sports physiology. Also I’m working closely with the amateur boxing association to provide a facility for development squads in preparation for 2012 games. In every other country I’ve been to, the best amateurs train alongside the professionals. There’s a lot of talent over here, but it stands to reason that the more exposure they get to different styles, and levels of opponent, the better they'll develop as fighters themselves, mentally and technically a lot of people point out that the pros and the amateurs are so different, but the more you can be exposed to, the more complete fighter you’ll become, and you'll adjust to whatever situation is necessary.
Also there will be an in house sports masseuse, and nutritionist. Plus it will have two cameras on the ring set up, so as any fighter can watch their sparring straight after their workout, which I found a big benefit for so many guys. We’re in a great location off the main M4 motorway (freeway), which connects straight to London, and is easy to get to from pretty much anywhere.
BH: Anything else you’d like to say in closing?
PF: Just to thank you for your time, I appreciate you. Keep smiling, peace
I would like to thank Bruce Anderson for helping me out with this interview, and special thanks goes out to Paddy for his patience. For more info on Paddy and his gym check out www.myspace.com/alishuffle.