As Manny Robles stood outside on a cool, crisp day in Southern California, he took a few moments to reminisce as to how he got started.
“My dad got me into boxing. Manuel ‘Chato’ Robles. He was a great trainer. He passed away. He’s gone now. I try to carry his legacy and carry his name the best way possible. He’s the one who got me in the gym. My father is the one who pretty much taught me everything. All honor goes to my dad. He’s the reason I’m here.”
Today was a holiday for most, but the drive and determination passed on through his father’s bloodlines are the first things you notice when you watch Robles work. So while the place he normally trains at, The Rock, in Carson, CA, was closed to honor Christmas, the highly disciplined, yet likable figure led his troops to the JackRabbit Boxing Academy in Long Beach. Robles, who was born in Mexico before coming to America at a young age, has a steady and proven approach to training fighters.
“My philosophy is to work hard. Show up every day and work hard. The mission (for my fighters) is to become a world champion.”
That mission was accomplished by two of his boxers on November 5, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jessie Magdaleno defeated Hall-of-Fame-bound Nonito Donaire to win the WBO Junior Featherweight Championship. Magdaleno, who was said to have had a tremendous training camp under Robles’ tutelage, displayed the skill and ring generalship Manny was able to instill. It was a signature performance for Robles’ pupil. But not to get outdone by the new champion Magadeleno, featherweight sensation Oscar Valdez scored a highlight-reel knockout at The Thomas and Mack Center on the same card to retain his belt. Valdez is another among Robles’ ever-growing stable which includes Dominic Breazeale, Dima Kudryashov, Alexander Brand, Vyacheslav Shabransky, Jason Quigley, Terrell Guasha, Manny Robles, Momo Romero. Emilio Sanchez, Michael Conlan, Oscar Negrete, Joselito Velasquez, and amateur standout, Chris Zavala. So how does one gain the privilege of being trained by this extraordinary teacher?
“You gotta become part of the family. You automatically become part of my family. They’re my kids. I care for them the same way I would any of my family members. They know I’m there for them. They know I’m their friend. I’m there whenever they need me. They come to my house, spend time with me. BBQ, celebrate birthdays, New Year’s, Christmas, holidays—we celebrate all of those things together. We’re not just fighter-trainer. We’re family.”
2016 was a stellar year for several trainers, such as Robert Garcia, Abel Sanchez, Virgil Hunter, Ronnie Shields, and Freddie Roach. However, after considerable thought, debates, discussions—and a good old-fashioned vote, it was clear that Manny Robles Jr. was Intelligent Boxing’s 2016 Trainer of the Year. His commitment and attention to detail propelled him into the position of becoming boxing’s top trainer.
“Nothing but respect for Robert, for Abel, Freddie, there’s so many great trainers, Mike Stafford. Awesome people. Great people. Great peers. They’re my motivation. My dream was to have an opportunity to be right where they’re at, in that same situation. It’s a dream come true. I have dreams too, just like the fighters do, right. I have dreams as a trainer to be the best. If I can be the best, I can bring out the best in my athletes, as well.”
So as we honor Carl Frampton (Fighter of the Year), Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido (Fight of the Year), and Manny Robles, we look forward to more exciting boxing in 2017. While these men have their names cemented in the history books, others will vie to join them. But for one Manny Robles, we have a feeling he is just scratching the surface of his accomplishments. Whether you are looking forward to fireworks in Thurman/Garcia, yearning for drama in Golovkin/Jacobs, following a legend winding down a career in Cotto/Kirkland, hoping for a scintillating rematch in Frampton/Santa Cruz 2, or anticipating a return to glory for the heavyweight division in Joshua/Klitschko, we’ll leave you with a final quote from our 2016 Trainer of the Year, Manny Robles:
“Boxing is very much alive.”