This weeks episode of On Freddie Roach gave us an opportunity to see yet another side of the remarkable Freddie Roach. For the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics Freddie has taken it upon himself to work with each one of the U.S. hopefuls. One thing that HBO didn’t really go into much detail on about this is that Freddie decided to do this on his own. No one is paying him, and no one asked him for his help either. Just the idea of asking a professional trainer, especially one as accredited and famous as Freddie Roach, is unheard of. What is discussed in this episode, by Freddie himself, is that he wants boxing to be what it once was in this country. Professional boxing is no where near what it once was in terms in popularity but amateur boxing is in even worse shape and Freddie is determined to change that.
While part of me feels like it is unnecessary to keep showing Freddie going to the hospital and receiving treatments every episode, I did enjoy this one. It was the very beginning of the episode and we saw the doctor having Freddie do all kinds of different things that involve the use of his basic motor skills. While watching this is rather boring, it was kind of cool to see Freddie laughing and joking with his doctor throughout the visit. Even though this was a serious doctors visit for a very serious illness both men seemed to be enjoying themselves. I don’t know what it was exactly, but seeing Freddie smiling and laughing while going through this was very uplifting to watch.
I remember watching HBO’s Ring Life: Manny Pacquiao a while back before his 3rd fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, and Pacquiao’s manager was talking about how Pacquiao was fighting in the L.A. area and wanted to work out in a gym while he was there. Pacquiao and his manager had heard that there was a trainer in the area who was really good with the gloves, and they wanted Manny to get some work in with him. That trainer turned out to be Freddie Roach and from that point on their relationship developed into what it is today. Watching Freddie work the gloves with one of his boxers is truly incredible to watch. What I really liked about this episode in particular though, is that before we only saw Freddie working with fighters who were already established professionals. This time we saw him working mostly with undeveloped amateur boxers so there was a lot more teaching involved this time around. It was awesome to see Freddie training these kids while working them out. With other fighters such as Amir Khan or Pacquiao, Roach is basically doing a routine that he and his fighters know extremely well so there is no need to stop and teach. Seeing Freddie share his knowledge with these young amateurs was incredible to witness.
One thing that I absolutely love about these documentary series’ that HBO puts together are the little aesthetic touches that they throw into almost every episode. We got to see all the U.S. hopefuls, along with Freddie Roach, sitting in a classroom being talked to by a sports psychologist. At first she is asking the boys to picture an orange and eventually peeling and eating said orange, but the words she uses to describe this experience aren’t exactly the best choice when speaking to a room of adolescents. This results in a lot of laughter, and even Freddie can’t help but crack a smile amongst the giggling. Then the attitude in the room changes dramatically when she asks the boys to imagine that they are walking into the boxing ring leading up to a fight. As she we hear her speaking inside of the classroom, we are shown the boys training and it is absolutely incredible. To hear her speak and watch these boys training in the gym doing their own routines is absolutely beautiful to behold and gives you a glimpse to what the sport of boxing is really all about.
Finally there is Domenic Peppin Roach, or Pepper as he is better known. Pepper is still in the hospital but has been doing rehab and is slowly regaining the use of the left side of his body. At the end of the episode Freddie finally goes to see him and shortly after we hear Freddie giving one of his narrations on Pepper. Pepper was always the better athlete than Freddie and was a much better boxer. Whenever the two of them boxed, Pepper always dominated Freddie. Freddie then explains that shortly after Pepper joined the Army he got really into drugs and from there his life went downhill. He explains that Pepper always wanted to be the bad guy, even though Freddie felt that that simply was not who he was. I thought it was really interesting that as we hear Freddie saying this, we see a picture of Pepper with his shirt off revealing all of his tattoos including one of the Nazi “SS” very big on his chest.
Freddie obviously loves his brother, but I feel like his brother also served a big role in his life as far as what not to do, and what not to become. Hopefully we will see Pepper return to the gym before long, and I really hope that we get a chance to see Freddie working more with the U.S. team next week. While amateur boxing still has a long way to go to get back to where it once was, having Freddie Roach in its corner is certainly a step in the right direction.