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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Freddie Roach's Jewish Problem

Freddie Roach is unquestionably a legendary trainer. Roach is a five-time "BWAA Trainer of the Year" award winner and has led his prized pupil, Manny Pacquiao- who fights tonight in Macau, China- to world title belts in a record eight different weight classes. But an altercation between Roach and the camp of Pacquiao's next opponent, Brandon Rios, has raised questions about Roach's attitude towards Jews.

After a dispute on Wednesday between the two camps over use of a shared gym, things turned violent and epitaphs were spewed. During the spat, Freddie Roach yelled at video reporter Elie Seckbach, who is Jewish, calling him a "fucking Jew." Roach also yelled a similar remark at a man he believed to be Mexican. Those in Rios's camp, including strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, mocked Roach's Parkinson's Disease, yelled a homophobic slur, and threatened him during the scuffle. Ariza took things even further when he viciously kicked Roach.

On Roach's comments toward him, Seckbach told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "He could've said, 'Get this idiot / clown / ass out of here.'" It's a great point and it begs the question: Why did Roach attack Seckbach's Jewishness?

Perhaps Roach linked Seckbach with Rios's camp, who mocked Roach's Parkinson's Disease in a 2010 video shot by Seckbach. But it still doesn't explain why he went after Seckbach's Jewishness?

As reported by Michael Woods of The Sweet Science, Roach explained after the incident on Wednesday, "I said something about the Jewish kid because that's all I know him as." Roach is also quoted as telling Seckbach, "I don't know your name, I just know you as the Jewish kid," after Seckbach accused him of racism.

Seckbach, who has interviewed Roach numerous times, was unconvinced, telling The JBB yesterday, "To me he is racist [because] he also said things about Mexicans."

However, Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, who is Jewish, told Seckbach, "The one thing about Freddie, he treats all people well and he is not anti-Mexican or anti-Jewish. And I would vouch for that 100%."

Jewish welterweight Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman trains in Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California, wrote on Twitter about Roach, "He's a good person. It's boxing, tempers flare."

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