(Riverside California's Boxing Pride)
We are honored to introduce to you Joe Salazar and his brother Tony. The Salazar brothers were born into a family of boxers and were inspired by their father to make the sport their life long profession.
Joe Salazar became pro boxer, while his brother chose to fight amateur. 52 years later, both brothers remain active as quality trainers at Riverside, California’s Lincoln Boxing Club and at Indian’s Gym. Both training gyms are Riverside’s true boxing core and a place where undefeated #1 WBC Heavyweight Contender Chris Arreola trained as a kid and continues to train till this day.
Arreola learned most, if not all, at both of those great boxing gyms.
Apart from training fighters the heavily tattooed Salazar brothers lend a hand to the community by volunteering their time to help teach underprivileged youths the proper art of boxing. We met with the Salazar brothers for an interview and had the honorable opportunity of learning more about their interesting lives.
By. S. Arredondo
CA: Did you ever get a nickname as a professional boxer?
JOE SALAZAR: I just went on by name. When I was in a fight in Vegas and knocking guys out, people would give me nicknames. I always preferred to go by Joe Salazar.
CA: Who is Kid Salazar?
JOE SALAZAR: That’s a name that my dad and all my uncles had tattooed onto their arms because they were all into boxing. I ended up tattooing it on my arm. But they didn’t do a very good job. It looked really bad so as I got older I ended up covering it up with another tattoo.
CA: What City did you grow up in?
JOE SALAZAR: I grew up right here in Riverside, California. It’s been 53 years.
CA: At what age did you start boxing?
JOE SALAZAR : Organized boxing , I think we were like 8 years old. But that’s funny because there is a picture of me with my dad. I can’t be more than two years old in that picture with boxing gloves around my neck. People ask me how long have you been boxing? At least 52 years, because I remember this picture of myself with me wearing this big old baggy diaper on and I got boxing gloves on my hands. And I am running around like this. I have been doing this a long time.
CA: Your Father was your trainer?
JOE SALAZAR: Yes, My dad was really into it. That was something he really wanted for us.My dad made us into the fighters that we became.
CA: If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?
JOE SALAZAR: We can fight. We just weren’t disciplined. We didn’t have enough self discipline. Enough commitment, you know. The things we know it takes to become a great fighter. We didn’t make it ! But we have a lot of knowledge. The lords given me a lot of wisdom thankfully. And I use it to instill in the kids that I help train.
CA: What are some of the biggest upsets you see in young up and coming boxers today and what advice can you give?
JOE SALAZAR: The night life, the kids get caught up in the glamour. All that stuff. They see all these famous boxers. Rich, they're partying hitting the night life, night clubs and stuff like that.. And that’s fine, some people can do that. I just think that if you are young and your thinking about a boxing career. You have to create a focused boxing lifestyle were you can dedicate yourself for 10 or 15 years. Because boxing careers are not that long. Your 20 years old and then your 30 and then your like almost done. So If you can put that night life off and self-indulgence. And then you will still be young and you will have money. And then you can do the night life thing if that is what you want to do.. You know what I mean. Dedicate yourself now. Get it out of the way and move on.
CA: What has been one of the toughest moments you have faced as a boxing trainer and why?
JOE SALAZAR: I actually have a boy down the street who I am training right now. It is sad because you know this kid, he is a great kid. He does everything I tell him! He doesn’t say how about this or how about that or I’m tired or anything. And this kid has absolutely no potential ! He is kind of slow, I thought this kid might have some kind of a mental handicap or something. So I went to talk to his mother. He is like 21 years old, and he lives at home. It is kind of hard for a person to ask a mother “Is your son handicapped ?” But I care about him so much I don’t want him to get hurt. So this kid , I am teaching him and he is having a hard time picking up combinations. I have been with him since August (9 months) and he has lost 50 pounds since I have been training him. He was this chubby kid. I will tell him I will pick him up in the morning at 8 to go running. Some times I drive up to his home and it’s him! Some thin guy ! And Its amazing ! Because it’s this kid I help everyday. I’m going to get him to start sparring a little bit, but I am really concerned about him.
CA: How do you focus on a particular fighter with so many kids at the gym?
JOE SALAZAR: It’s so busy at the gym and there are so many kids that it is hard to help everybody. So I see a couple of girls hitting the bag wrong and another kid doing some crazy stuff. Training wrong, so I will stop and help them briefly. Because I kind of focus my attention on the kids that are dedicated and take boxing seriously.
CA: Do you still personally train?
JOE SALAZAR: I train like I have a fight coming up and I run everyday, sometimes I go to Indian’s Gym were Chris Arreolla trains or I go to my garage where I have a boxing gym set up too.
CA: At what age did you decide you want to go from amateur to pro boxer?
JOE SALAZAR: I was actually 24 years old. I knew I wanted to be a pro since I was a kid. But I guess life got in the way. I ended up going to jail for a few years. I had a boxing fight in the prison. There was a painting instructor who saw me boxing and he was into boxing. He said he was going to move to Las Vegas and when I get out he asked me to look him up. So I ended up looking him up when I got out and I moved to Vegas. He kind of managed me for a while setting up fights for me in Las Vegas.
CA: What was your pro boxing record?
JOE SALAZAR: 5 and 1 as a pro, 5 knockouts. And it’s funny, about my loss. I only had 4 pro fights since I was knocking these guys out. And no one guy that I knocked out was supposed to beat me. I don’t know how they worked that out with my trainer or what. My trainer, I don’t know if he lied to them. He was Wilfred Benítez Stables
out of Puerto Rico. Who Sugar Ray Leonard took the welterweight title from. So he was an up and coming undefeated kid with knock outs too. He was supposed to beat me up but I ended up knocking him out.
I ended up fighting my fourth pro fight, I fought a main event. I fought a 10 rounder. I wasn’t ready. I think I could of beat the guy. But I was partying man. I was partying and drinking and all that shit. I went 10 rounds and I only had 4 pro fights. I fought a 10 rounder and went the distance. I didn’t get seriously hurt thankfully. I didn’t give it my all because I knew I was going to get dead tired and then he was going to beat the crap out of me. That is something that I really messed up.
CA: What do you think about some of today’s boxers?
JOE SALAZAR: Growing up I was not being babied. They groom these kids to become champion fighters. Look at Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. They have groomed him since he was a child. The kid had over 20 sum fights and still was not fighting 10 rounders. I didn’t have grooming like that. My trainer just wanted to throw me in there. He through me into a 10 rounder with only 4 pro fights underneath my belt and I took it. It seemed pretty lucrative to me back then because I made $1,500 for that fight. My first pro fight I made $150 before taxes ha ha. That was back in 1980.
CA: What are some of the most difficult things to deal with as a trainer?
JOE SALAZAR: I like helping kids I really do. This is something about me, I don’t get excited about people. I don’t let people disappointment me. And I see it coming. There are kids who go to the gym to train. You know this kid looks good or this kid looks sharp. And then if he doesn’t come to the gym the next day. Oh well. I am not disappointed, I am not like “where is what’s his name?”. No, I am onto the guy who is there. I am going to work with the kid that is there. I mean if this kid is here everyday, that is my kid and I am going to help him the most. When this kid doesn’t show up, then I don’t care how much talent he has. Too bad, It doesn’t interest me. I want somebody that is dedicated. I will dedicate my self and my time 110% to the person that wants to dedicate it. I have this kid I train from the neighborhood. We have this hill right here. The first day I took him to this hill he ran maybe a quarter of the way up and he was throwing up and he was dying. He was chubby and I go wo breath and I walked him down the hill. As time went on he went up it like 5 or 6 times like nothing. We found some new hills he we are doing them too. I am there for him, I feel bad for him and I am afraid for him. He is training real hard for a fight. It is something he wants to do.