and Pepper at "The Wild Card"
Hollywood, Los Angeles.
In every boxing gym around the world
, you allways come across men of character. Boxing gives
you that after all. Over the years , i had met a few characters
in the gyms, some serious, brooding, bad muthers, some
funny , full of life, pranksters, and occasionally, some
absolute nut cases.
After walking through the asian laundrette, and up the
back stairs to the gym, i was greeted warmly by a little
guy behind the counter. I asked him if Freddie was around.
He said "what the fuck do ya wanna see him for"
I told him i allways came down to see him when i was in
town, and do a bit of training. He then introduced himself
as Freddie Roach's brother , "Pepper"
He then whips off his t-shirt and continues to tell me
what his tattoos meant to him. After i read them all,
i continued to get ready for my workout . In the middle
of getting ready, and me standing half bollock naked,
he shouts over, "no motherfucking spandex in this
gym Scottie" then the whole gym laughs. Blacks, whites,
hispanic, united in laughter at the expence of this Scotsman.
What could i do? laugh of course.
After warming up, shadow boxing, then skipping, i was
ready for the bags.
Pepper had other ideas. Just as i was finishing my 3rd
round on the heavy bag, he motions me to the ring. I waited
until the buzzer sounded then climbed through the ropes.
Pepper slipped on the mits and we go at it for a couple
of rounds, before we sit down for a bit of a chat .
We talked about the boxing business, but mostly about
him , which was almost as good. It turns out Pepper Roach
was a promising fighter , with a good record [ W12 L2
D1 ] until he was forced into retirement. I asked him,
" why did you retire, ? were you injured ? "
He replied, "Nah, the cops caught me robbing a liquor
store, and they sent me to jail" "I did 53 months
and im not going back. Some bad mutherfuckers in there
and i had to become one of them to survive.
I was crazy then.[ he says with a loud laugh] Once we
talked 53 months of jailbird jive, i asked him what he
thought about James Toney, and his fight with John Ruiz.
I asked him about the steroids, which he was taking and
being stripped. He replied," Toney didn't need to
take any drugs to beat John Ruiz, he would have kicked
his ass anyway"
Pepper Roach lived and breathed boxing, and i wasn't going
anywhere until i interviewed him.
Q. What was your favourite fighter?
A. Ken Buchanan.
Q. Favourite fighter to train?
A. Irishman, Bernard"Ben" Dunne. he's a good
Q. Highlight of your career?
A. When i quit, ha ha.
Q. Toney, Ruiz, Do you think there will
be a rematch?
A. yeah, i think so.
Q. If not, where does he go?
A. Vitali Klitscho.
Q. Mike Tyson, Do you still think he
can bang with the best?
A. Tyson can still hit very hard. Freddie trained him,
not me. He said he is the hardest hitter.
Q. Who's gonna win? Gatti or Mayweather?
A. I hope Gatti wins.
Pepper, thanks for your time.
After saying goodbye to my new found
friends, i made my way out to the Santa Monica Boulevard,
and caught a cab home, all the while thinking about my
training session, and my time at the Wild card.