On Friday, Nov. 24, members of the Las Vegas boxing community gathered at the Davis Funeral Home in Las Vegas to celebrate the life of the famed cut man and trainer and overall good guy Rafael Garcia who died on Nov. 13 at age 88 of complications of leukemia. Among those signing the guest registry were the former WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, who happens to be Garcia’s godson, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Leonard Ellerbe, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Thell Torrance, Richard Steele, Bruce Trampler, Lee Samuels, Layla McCarter, Ishe Smith, Ronald Gavril, and Skipper Kelp.
Born in Puebla, Mexico, Garcia was a 45-year resident of Las Vegas. Instantly recognized by the pins that adorned his ever-present cap, he was a longtime employee of Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. where he worked as an assistant to the noted trainer Miguel Diaz. There came a day, however, when he was forced to choose between Arum and Arum’s “prodigal son” Floyd Mayweather Jr. He elected to go with Mayweather.
Garcia worked with 35 world champions, including Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, and Wilfredo Gomez, but became best known as Mayweather’s hand wrapper. Early in his career, Floyd was troubled with brittle hands. Mayweather, who was fond of calling Garcia his grandfather, credited Garcia’s dexterity with the scissors and gauze for eliminating the problem and prolonging his career.
Garcia’s family and close friends, including a large delegation from the Mayweather Gym, gathered at the funeral home before the eulogies began. TSS cameraman Marcelino Castillo was there to extend his sympathy.
Most of the eulogizers spoke in Spanish. Garcia reposed in a casket with impressive floral displays on each side. Overhead, a silent video montage of his career ran on two overhead television screens.
Rafael Garcia was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame this past August. May he rest in peace.
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