There shouldn’t be more motivation than being trained by a three-time world boxing champion.
Tony ‘The Tiger’ Lopez has joined the crew over at Deep Water Academy in Fairfield to help train up-and-coming local boxers and owner Ed Feliciano couldn’t be happier.
“I’m a longtime friend of Tony’s,” Feliciano said. “I’ve known him since the 1990s. I’ve always liked what Tony’s stood for. He was just a great boxer, a really great guy. He likes to work with the kids.
“Myself and Bobby (Sanchez), we all came from the gang life. We were all saved from the streets coming to the boxing gym. We started this place and got ahold of Tony and said, ‘Hey, Tony, we really want to do something special.’ ”
Feliciano took over Deep Water Academy three months ago and the gym is starting to take off with the addition of Lopez, who at the moment trains fighters one day a week, though he plans on coming to the gym more as time goes by.
“The kids love it,” Feliciano said. “Some of the older fighters that left from the old ownership have come back with having Tony on board. We have fighters that drive some distance. We have fighters that drive from San Jose, Manteca, Modesto. They’ll come down just to work with Tony. . . . He’s one of the greatest in the sport.”
Sanchez, the gym’s manager, said having Lopez around is nothing but a positive thing.
“This is actually a blessing (to have Tony),” Sanchez said. “His knowledge is a blessing and motivation. It’s nice to be able to go around and say “Hey, we have Tony ‘The Tiger’ Lopez, a three-timer world champ.’ He’s teaching what he’s learned to make him a three-time champ.
“What it means to them, their first response is ‘Wow! Really?’ I get the reaction of amazement. Once they realize that it’s really happening, they start getting more motivated. Having Tony here has affected this gym in many, many positive ways.”
Lopez amassed a 50-8-1 record in his prestigious career, earning three world titles along the way. After taking a short time to think about it, he said coming to Deep Water Academy was the thing to do.
“Bobby just called me and said come on out,” Lopez said. “We need a trainer. I was thinking that I was pretty busy. I own my own bail bondsman business. But it was a new gym. So I though ‘OK. What the heck. Why not?’ I wanted to help them get the gym started. They are good guys and it’s a nice gym.”
Training to be a boxer is one thing, but Feliciano said it’s more than just that.
“A guy got out of high school and didn’t know what to do with his life,” Feliciano said. “He was overweight, like a bump on the couch. He’s been coming here four months and he’s already lost something like 50 pounds. He’s out looking for a job now. When he’s not out looking for a job, or helping his mom at home, he’s in the gym training. I’ve been a personal trainers for a long time now, and that’s my thing. I like to change people’s lives.
“We have another guy, he’s an ex-gang banger. He’s always been in and out of trouble. He just had a new baby. He’s changing his life, trying to make it better, to be a good father to his kid. The kids just can’t come here. They have to maintain a ‘C’ average. They have to bring in their report cards, copies of their progress reports. The reason we have the lounge up front is for the kids to be able to come in and do their homework. . . . We’re kind of like a big family. No one gets left behind.”
For Lopez, he’s not satisfied with the boxing world today. He wants to change that.
“This is what it is, I’m old school,” Lopez said. “Boxing today sucks. The reason why boxing today sucks is because the trainers don’t know what they are doing. They really don’t. They have no clue. They don’t know how to train fighters to fight southpaws anymore. Today, there are a lot of great fighters that don’t know how to fight southpaws.
“I teach A-B-C boxing. It’s hardcore. There’s no joking. You come in here and you work. The boxing world today sucks. The teaching of A-B-C boxing is gone. And all the great trainers will tell you that it’s gone. This kid (Anthony Smith II), I’m going to change his world. He’s going to be in the best shape of his life. He’s going to train hard and be good. Not just because I’m training him, it’s because I’m going to train him old school. That’s the reason why.”
No reason why not to believe a three-time world champ.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.