Friday, November 20, 2009

Shane Langford: In His Own Words

People live with the cards fate dealt them with. Others may have the odds favoring their lives, while some have to keep on living with everything stacked against them. For Shane Langford, boxing was supposed to be his ticket to boxing grandeur.

But glory inside the ring will never be his. Despite his impressive amateur career in his native Canada, the 32-year old 1999 Canadian National Amateur Boxing Tournament bronze medalist was, according to him, mishandled by the people who were supposed to look out for him.

When he turned professional in 2000 at super bantamweight, Langford’s first two bouts were against a very seasoned veteran in Steve Molitor, who had 30 victories in 31 bouts at the time. Needless to say, Langford’s lack of experience in professional prizefighting, plus the fact that his first opponent was a highly-skilled boxer delivered Langford his first two losses.

He will taste his only victory in his third fight opposite a fellow Canadian boxer Sheldon Wile who was then 2-0. All succeeding fights ended in a loss, except one bout which resulted in a draw. After his fifth professional bout, Langford, now a homeless boxer living off in the streets of Los Angeles, met Pepper Roach, Freddie Roach’s brother, and he was taken under the care of the famed boxing trainers /siblings.

The Roaches tried to reignite Langford’s career, but despite it all, Langford’s dreams of becoming a world champion seemed to have never been etched in stone.

The final blow came from Jorge Espinoza when Langford faced him in April 1, 2005. Langford suffered his final loss via a tremendous beating at the expense of his left eye. The punishment he took closed his left eye forever.

The cards dealt to Langford are cruel to say the least. Losing a career in general and an eye in particular is a double whammy indeed. Langford’s professional boxing career ended with the record 1-7-1.

But fate may have other things planned for the former brawler from Canada. After recovering from his last bout, Roach offered him a job as custodian of the world-renowned Wild Card Boxing Club.

Under Freddie Roach’s tutelage, Langford immersed himself with knowledge of the Sweet Science the boxing guru has to teach him. Eventually, Roach allowed him to train his own fighters and have Langford assist him when Roach is working with top-class boxers.

Prominence and popularity also came to Langford when he was featured in the award-winning series 24/7 Pacquiao-Hatton. Today, Langford has his own droves of fans and a short list of clients, mostly amateur boxers.

Questions in bold. Answers in italics.

How did you get started in boxing?

I started learning how to box when I was 15 to fight the bigger kids in school.

You were a medalist during your amateur days in Canada. Does that say you got a great amateur experience?

Not really but I had about 30 fights. I fought in the nationals twice and I beat the then Canadian national Champ Ernesto Moraino. I fought a few good guys and beat some of them and lost to some.

When you turned pro and found out that your first opponent was a seasoned veteran, what were the thoughts that raced through your mind that night?

I thought I could win and I put a lot of pressure on him but never really made him work that hard. He won easily the next time I fought him but I did a lot better but lost a majority decision. I didn't really train that hard for that because they called me on a short notice. But it was only a four rounder and Steve (Molitor) wasn’t a good puncher yet.

You only have one victory as a pro and it was your third fight. How did you celebrate it?

I don’t remember really. I thought I would have more in the future but it didn’t work out.

You went from a pro boxer to a homeless person in LA. How did you survive a life on the streets?

Being a good fighter helped. I’ll not lie; I think I had close to one hundred fights on the street those first couple years and a bunch more since. Yesterday I had one in the Mobile gas station before that it was a few weeks on the vine by the Bliss CafĂ© and before that I had way more than that. The list goes on and on.

The thing is in L.A there are not many hungry people as there are so many people giving out food by the beach or in a church or in the street. You see them almost anywhere and they give u doughnuts and patisseries and cake and whatever is cheap.

It’s still good they got places for you to sleep if you’re not in good condition for the streets. Shelters and stuff the Glendale armory, they’ll let u sleep there. For showers, I went to the Wild Card boxing gym. They let me in for free because Freddie told them to. I then found a job at Burners, a bar on Hollywood and Cherokee as a dishwasher.

I lived well then! I got fired for fighting so I tried making money by fighting professionally. After what happened to my eye, I called it quits.


How did you meet the Roach brothers?

I met the Roaches when I was training in their gym. They knew I used to fight and let me train for free. I’d always show up with bruises from the street then they said that I could fight for real and make money so I did and lost to some Spanish guy. I then fought a bunch of other guys then I retired because of my eye.

They let me stay in the gym and clean it for a job. Being in the gym all the time, I started watching Freddie train guys and id copy his moves. In those days nobody did that. Now everyone does so that changed and it was good.


As a fighter, Freddie trained you. As a trainer that you are now, did Freddie Roach teach you everything you know or did you observed his training methods?

Freddie taught me all I know about training but he didn’t just give it to me he made me watch and observe. I took notes. The other coaches did not like it and I often got into fights with them.

Among the boxing legends that trains at Wild Card, who is the closest to you?

Pacquiao is always very nice and cool that I like him from the first day. Israel Vasquez is a real cool guy also. I am a huge fan of Michael Moorer who was fair and cool. Then there’s Ricky Keyless who is super good. I hang out with Craig McQuinn and Dean Byrne the Irishman.

Brian Villoria is a good friend and I sparred with him for a while and made $60 a day from him. I would have sparred with him for free but he really insists on paying me, which is cool since he really punches hard. I remember I got dropped by a bodyshot and it hurt for like a week.


Wayne Mchough is also nice and I sparred with him a few times. I liked Martin Cordova. Me, him, and Dean Byrne broke into this New Year’s party one time by climbing the fence because I had no ID. There are more guys like Markus Harvey and Troy Bodean and Pepper Roach but it would take too long.


Any regrets in choosing boxing as a profession? Would you change things in the past if given the chance?

Never regretted anything I’ve ever done. Only what I didn’t do.


Last question. How is life at Wild Card Gym after you got featured in Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7?

The clients realize that I’m teaching Freddie’s methods since the show aired and that I’m a good guy but all the fights I’ve been in gave me a bad name. I guess fighting will always be a part of me but after the show, people seem to understand better.

3 comments:

King

Great interview bro!

How did you nail this one by long distance calls. Must have cost your phone bill nasty amounts huh haha

Kenneth Ragpala

Thanks for the read King. Appreciate it. Internet this days really got a way to connect people. I am merely optimizing it.

Anonymous

It is extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

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