ANGEL GARCIA, FATHER OF DANNY — It’s old news by now, but Angel Garcia’s vulgar diatribe last Wednesday at a press conference in Brooklyn has stoked up the boxing mediaverse. And with Garcia facing likely repercussions, this is a story that will undoubtedly have a long shelf life.
Garcia is the father and trainer of WBC welterweight titlist Danny Garcia. He spoke at the conference set up to promote his son’s unification fight with Keith Thurman at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on March 4. During his foul-mouthed rant, he splayed Thurman with the “N” word and made derogatory comments about gays and immigrants.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael and Yahoo’s Kevin Iole, arguably America’s most prominent boxing writers, were appalled. “It was the most despicable thing I have seen in nearly two decades of covering boxing,” said Rafael. Iole described Garcia’s behavior as “despicable” and “outrageous” while commending Keith Thurman for his self-restraint.
Mauricio Sulaiman, the head of the World Boxing Council, expressed his indignation with a self-serving statement that referenced the fact that for 19 years the WBC opposed apartheid by refusing to recognize South African boxers. “Boxing is a sport of contact, but it is a noble one and fighters are role models for the youth of the world with countless exemplary actions of fair play, respect, unity, humanity and brotherhood,” tacked on Sulaiman for good measure. (It’s ironic, in a way, to find Iole and Sulaiman on the same side. In 2006, when Mauricio’s late father Jose Sulaiman was named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Iole opined that this was the equivalent of appointing the famous gangster John Gotti to the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Angel Garcia crossed the line in Brooklyn, but trash talking in boxing is as old as the hills. In days of yore when booth fighters plied the fair circuit in England, most of their fights were with ringers planted in the audience. A mock rumble was invariably preceded by a shouting match; deprecations were hurled back and forth. As boxing became more regulated, fomenting a grudge remained a staple for whetting the public’s interest in an event.
This was hardly the first time that Danny Garcia’s father ruffled feathers with incendiary remarks. He equated Argentine-Americans with welfare cheats prior to Danny’s match with Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse and disparaged Pakistanis as retards prior to his son’s match with Amir Khan. He called Zab Judah’s father a crackhead, prompting Judah to label him a dopehead. But these putdowns were lobbed in a way that suggested his outrage was feigned; all for show. He seemed to be channeling Tyson Fury or, dare we say it, the young Muhammad Ali, rather than some inbred hate-monger. Writing in 2013, Orange County Register sports columnist Mark Whicker called Angel “the entertainment channel on the Garcia network.” (For someone born in Puerto Rico, his anti-foreigner rantings sure are perplexing.)
The co-promoters of the March 4 show, Lou DiBella and Al Haymon, aren’t going to allow Angel Garcia or anyone from either camp other than the fighters to sit on the dais for the final press conference for the March 4 fight. The New York State Athletic Commission is being pressured to turn Angel down when he applies to renew his boxing license, which would preclude him from working his son’s corner. Considering that Danny Garcia has never boxed, amateur or pro, without his dad in his corner, this could play hob with the odds, making Keith Thurman an even larger favorite (at last glance, Thurman was 5/2).
Regardless of where one stands on Angel Garcia’s fulminations, whether bemused or appalled or somewhere in between, one can fairly characterize his latest outburst as stupid. Sponsors with deep pockets are slowly drifting back to boxing. The Garcia-Thurman match, a juicy confrontation between undefeated title-holders, will be televised in primetime by CBS, a boon for the sport and a welcome development for boxing fans. But how long will major sponsors and major networks want to be associated with boxing when the sport is identified with folks like Angel Garcia?
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