Photo by Al Applerose
Manny Robles Boxing’s Newest Champion Builder
By David A. Avila
Everybody has a story says Manny Robles Jr. and sometimes they intermingle with other stories to create even bigger sagas.
For Robles, the son of a renowned fight trainer, the story began at age 10 and now 35 years later he’s made his mark as the master trainer of two world champion boxers.
On Saturday, Oscar Valdez retained the WBO featherweight world title and Jessie Magdaleno ripped the WBO super bantamweight title from Nonito Donaire at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas in front of 16,000 fans. Both champions are mentored by Lake Elsinore’s Robles.
“Oscar and Jessie are the first two world champions that I’m able to say that I trained on my own,” said Robles, who assisted his late father Manny “Chato” Robles with numerous world champions in the past. “When I saw Jessie (Magdaleno) win the world title, when they called his name and announced him as the winner, the emotions were such an incredible feeling.”
Robles, 45, was born in Mexico and journeyed to the U.S. with his father at a very young age. The father was considered one of the top pro boxing trainers in the world and was based in Los Angeles. He passed away in 2007 but the subtle art of boxing tactics, training regimens and psychological preparation was rigidly kept by the son.
“Manny (Robles) is very much like his father,” said Frank Espinoza who manages both world champions Valdez and Magdaleno. “He has that old school mentality and keeps the old school tactics. Plus he’s very loyal and has a way with fighters.”
Aside from his two current world champions, Robles also trains two outstanding Irish prospects Jason Quigley a middleweight and Michael Conlan who recently participated in the Rio Olympics. He also has several others in his crowded gym in Carson.
Watching his two pupils achieve world title victories on Saturday was a moment of joyful pride.
“I learned my dad’s approach. When you care it (relationship) becomes more than just a trainer and boxer. It has got to go way beyond that. You have to care for these kids like your own children. It takes a lot to leave your family behind to move to another state or another country,” said Robles by phone on Sunday. “I talk to my boys at the gym and let them know dreams do come true if you put in the work, effort and dedication. They see it now with Jessie (Magdaleno) and Oscar (Valdez). They know now they can also become a world champion.”
Robles attributes success to his assistants in the gym and the managing team of Frank Espinoza Sr. and Frank Espinoza Jr. who travel almost daily on 100 mile treks to the gym to make sure the fighters and trainer receive whatever is needed. The Espinozas also worked with his father and their winning relationship continues.
“For us its come full circle,” said Frank Espinoza Jr. “It feels good that we’re keeping the legend alive of his father and those old school ways.”
Robles said watching his two first world champions emerge with victories is almost indescribable.
“It was such a wonderful feeling when you win a world title. There is so much that goes on to winning a fight or winning a title. So much pain, work, that when they raise your boxer’s hand it’s worth every minute,” Robles said. “It’s like winning a Super Bowl.”
The story continues.