Roger Mayweather (1961-2020): "The Black Mamba was a real fighter who didn't duck anyone," insists expert trainer
On Tuesday, March 17th, the boxing community learned of former two-division world champion and heralded fight trainer Roger Mayweather's untimely and tragic passing. The always competitive "Black Mamba" was just 58 years of age and was known for not only being a complete fighter during his nearly twenty-year career in the ring, but also as one of the sport's most gifted trainers.
"I first met Roger back in the eighties," stated the experienced boxing coach on FightSaga Radio last week. "Back when Jesse Reid was his trainer. Jesse used to talk about his fighter who was a talented, athletic boxer/puncher that had a big right hand. That's what he was known for."
"If he hit you with that right hand, he could put your lights out. But he was also an excellent all-around boxer. He was a complete fighter. When I first met him, he was a tough, cocky kid. He didn't fear anyone and was willing to fight anybody, anytime. But all of the Mayweathers were like that."
Coach Gogue also discussed how different the sport was while Roger was competing. The 15 round parameter wasn't the only difference while "The Black Mamba" was a prizefighter.
"Roger was a real fighter. He didn't duck anyone when he was competing. He came from the old school, back in the eighties...the last golden age of boxing in America. It's just not the same anymore."
"Roger didn't act like a businessman, like a lot of these fighters nowadays. And he fought three or four times a year. Not once or maybe twice a year like most do today."
"He was a real fighter who took on all challenges and fought everyone. Roger wasn't scared of anyone. The sad part is the punches eventually caught up to him. Not only in the fights, but in sparring while training for his fights. Most fans don't realize how much damage these fighters used to take in the gym while preparing for upcoming fights."
Gogue remembers the vicious but "necessary" ring wars that would take place behind closed doors just to prepare for the eventual payday on fight night. The knowledgeable coach insists it was nothing like what takes place today.
"Some of their sparring sessions are like brutal fights. Yeah, they're wearing bigger gloves and headgear, but every time they get hit, their brain moves around. Especially back in Roger's era."
"Nowadays, trainers will stop sparring if he sees a fighter taking too many unnecessary shots. Back then, most trainers would let it continue. They've also cut the number of days their fighters spar per week. They only spar once or twice a week. Back in the day, fighters used to spar sometimes five days per week when preparing for a fight."
"Monday through Friday...10, 12, 15 rounds a day. Saturday we would hit the speed and heavy bag, and Sunday we would do road work."
"Now fighters will devote more time to strength and conditioning instead of sparring while preparing for their fights. Back then, sparring was how a fighter got into championship shape. They didn't jump on boxes or do gymnastics drills...they sparred to get in peak fight shape. The logic was that if you could do 10, 12 or 15 rounds of sparring every day, you could do it in the fight."
"It was a lot tougher during Roger's era...that's how I learned."
The experienced fight trainer claims the brutal but expected practices eventually caught up to Mayweather and several other brave combatants who fought during Roger's era of prizefighting.
"This is a dangerous sport. I don't want to mention any names, but I know several fighters who are suffering from first and second stage dementia," claims James Gogue. "As I said, I'm not going to mention any names, but they're all well-known fighters. It's a result of the punches they took throughout their career...and they know this, and they've told me as much."
"They slur when they attempt to speak and have become incoherent. They also can't take care of themselves like they used to and require assistance now. It's really sad."
Roger's nephew, Floyd Mayweather Jr., revealed in recent years that his uncle's declining health and many ailments were a primary reason for his decision to retire from the sport in 2015. Floyd attributes his Uncle Roger's health issues to his unwavering heart and toughness in the ring.
"Roger's condition is from him being offensive-minded while he was fighting," Floyd recently stated on his UK fan tour last week. "Whereas my dad taught me how to be a defensive fighter."
Although many fans will often share their disgruntled perspective on various social media pages, concerning a more defensive-minded attitude adopted by many current prizefighters, Coach Gogue understands why and can't blame them for subscribing to a more "safety first" approach in the ring.
"When I was a young trainer, the great Eddie Futch once told me, 'If you have no defense, you'll have a short and inglorious career in this business. But if you have a defense, you'll have longevity'. I've known Floyd Sr. for a long time and he preached that same message religiously to his son while he was growing up."
"But I knew Roger wasn't doing well. A very good friend of his, Cornelius Boza Edwards, told me that he hadn't been doing well for the last several years. After your fighting days are over, and the fans have forgotten about you, many fighters are left in a bad physical state...where they can't even take care of themselves. Matthew Saad Muhammad and Bobby Chacon were like that before they passed away.
"It's a tough and brutal business filled with very brave individuals. Most fans have no idea what fighters go through. The sacrifices they make and the commitment and dedication it takes just to compete in the ring. The hard work on a daily basis, dehydrating yourself while cutting weight the week of the fight, watching your diet, it's a tough life...and 99.9% of these guys will never make money like Canelo or Floyd Jr."
"I wouldn't recommend boxing to just anybody. It takes a very 'special' individual to take punches in the ring, and there are much easier ways to make a living. God bless all of the brave souls who take punishment for the entertainment of the often unappreciative fight fans."
Roger Mayweather will always be remembered as a fighter who gave the sport and its fans everything he had for almost two decades, and for being a brilliant teacher of the sweet science once he retired as a prizefighter.
May the "Black Mamba" finally "Rest in Peace" - Roger Mayweather (1961 - 2020)
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