This episode of On Freddie Roach was intense to say the least. We got to see and learn a lot more about Freddies past, mostly what his home life was like growing up. We got to a chance to see him interact with his older brother Pepper as well as his mother Barbara. Both of them work at Freddie’s Wild Card Boxing Gym located in Hollywood California. Actually I don’t think his mother works there, I’m pretty sure she just spends time there looking after her two sons. I’m not too sure if Freddie has other siblings. From the way he and Pepper spoke of their upbringing it sort of sounded as though they did but maybe not. Either way, Freddie and Pepper are very close to one another as well as their mother, and Freddie takes care of both them with complete selflessness.
Freddie and his brother Pepper grew up tough. Fighting was a part of life, their dad fought professionally and he wanted his sons to do the same, in fact he made sure they did the same. Freddie explains during one of his voice overs in the beginning of the episode that, “boxing in [his] house was part of life. From day one [he] was taught to fight.” I really like how as Freddie is saying all of this about boxing in his home life they show old 8mm home movies of Freddie at age 6 and Pepper at age 7, both wearing boxing gloves and punching each other. Both of them have massive smiles painted on their faces as they chase one another around the house throwing punches.
Freddie’s dad was, to put it bluntly, a real hard ass. He wanted his kids to grow up tough, and decided that fighting was more important than their education. Pepper explains while giving someone a tour of the gym that their father told them one day “Fuck school you’ll all be fighters, so none of them graduated.” He follows this statement immediately by saying “I had 8th grade 4 times.”
We see Freddie going through his typical work day. For me this was really interesting because anytime I have ever seen him at work it is with one of his superstars. I have seen him work with Manny Pacquiao several times, and last week we saw him working with Amir Khan leading up to his fight with Zab Judah. This week, though, we got a chance to see Freddie working with his other fighters, ones who fight for peanuts compared to what Khan and Pacquiao bring in.
We also see Pepper working the gloves with a heavyweight, then after some time goes by we see that something is horribly wrong with Pepper. It almost seems like he is on drugs or something, at least that was my first impression, but no seems to know for sure. It isn’t until Canada, one of Roach’s other employees, calls 911 and starts saying that he thinks he had a stroke. He keeps saying this even though no one else is and it turns out that he is actually correct in his assumption. Pepper has apparently suffered from several strokes before, and he seems to be doing pretty well considering. I really hope he is able to recover fully from this one as well because is a very likable character.
This event ends up speaking volumes for Freddie Roach’s character. Right before Pepper was discovered Freddie was signing a contract with a new fighter. He took care of the situation with Pepper, and once Pepper was on his way to the hospital we see Freddie step into his office a make a phone call. While on the phone he is sobbing horribly, but the camera never cuts away. All in one take of less than 5 minutes we see Freddie let out his emotion and regroup himself and get right back to work. He begins training the fighter he just signed and acts as though nothing has happened even though he was just sobbing minutes ago. He works the rest of his day and is on his way home a little after 8pm, to complete his 12 hour work day. Once home he begins watching fight videos on his laptop, and this is how the episode ends. Roach lives boxing it is his life and even though it gave him the disease of Parkinson’s, it has given back to him in so many ways. I’m really hoping we find out next week that Pepper is okay.