He started in boxing in 1961, and yeah, I guess he's a grizzled vet, but he doesn't look grizzled.
Jesse Reid's face doesn't betray his decades in the game, or suggest he's the sort who looks at the downsides in boxing, and wallows in the negativity. He was quick with a grin the other day at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, as he watched his kid Gabe Rosado wrap his hands, and chat with media, as they counted down to tonight's rumble at Barclays Center, and on HBO.
Reid was in the Navy, after being drafted out of college, LA State. The East LA resident played football for Navy and then answered the call when word went out Navy needed some guys skilled with their fists. Reid's fists had talked on the streets of LA so he raised his hand, and learned pugilism. While in Special Services, he racked up some wins, and then went pro, doing that for 3 1/2 years.
“I found out how tough it was for a white man to make it in boxing,” he explained, harkening back to a time when there was a bias, especially maybe on the West Coast, against the possibility that a Caucasian could hang with a Hispanic or black boxer. He started training fighters in the early 70s. He handled Rodolfo Gonzalez, a Mexican hitter who finished up in 1974 with a 80-9-1, with 67 stops. Jackie McCoy, who managed Reid and El Gato, asked Reid to see if he could get through to Gonalez, who didn't speak English and had trust issues. They clicked–it helped that Reid helped the fighter by giving him landscaping work on the side– and within 12 fights, Gonzo won the WBC lightweight title with a W over Chango Carmona, in November 1972. It was his first fighter, and they won a crown together.
This boxing training stuff, this is a cool breeze and I'm hot stuff, he figured. Ah, but it isn't that easy to snag lightning and bottle it, lol.
“I thought, Oh, this is easy,” the 72-year-old tutor, who has worked with Rosado for the last six months. But Reid kept at it, and more of his guys won titles.
I asked him for his top three guys. Guess who took the top slot? Mi Vida Loco, but of course.
“Johnny Tapia,” the helmer told, referring to the fighter who is the subject of a new Lou DiBella/50 Doc, “Tapia,” which hits screens and cable soon. “He won three world titles with me. And Hector Camacho, when he beat Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran. I was with him for a year and a half, as a middleweight. I kinda helped him being more aggressive, and he knocked Sugar Ray out. And Gonzalez the bantam and lightweight champ.”
I asked him his secret to not looking his age and he told me, “If you live like a fighter, you'll live a long life! A well behaved fighter, eat right, don't drink.” Reid is married, with four kids, and he has that father figure vibe with a Rosado type, a kid who's hung on rough streets and craves structure.
Reid told me that Rosado's record is deceptive, in that he won some fights that the judges declared he didn't. “He grew up the way I did, the hard way, and I liked his attitude when he came to me. I like the way he listens real well, and I think I've made him a better boxer.”
Tonight, Reid told me, we will see a Rosado (21-8; age 28) who looks for angles better, and sits down on his shots better. He knows he has a good chin, but has to bend his legs and rip shots. He needs to slide and move left and right, not head on. As for Lemieux, he has B plus power, the trainer said, and he needs to be set to throw. Rosado can offset that with movement, Reid noted. The jab and getting angles are two huge keys, he stated. “I think this time you'll see a tremendously conditioned Gabe, like he was his last fight (also with Reid).”
So, I should, were I so inclined, though I'm not, bet on Rosado to win? Reid, breaking into a serene grin, said, “I think that's a smart thing to do!”
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