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Frank Galarza: A different kind of boxing hero

13
Nov
Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

He woke up this morning and, just like most of us, went to pee. Bladder emptied, Frank Galarza hit the scale. He’s got a fight tomorrow night, running on “ShoBox” (10:45 p.m. ET, Saturday, on Showtime) against 16-0 Jarrett Hurd.
“The Brooklyn Rocky,” the fighting pride of the Red Hook ‘hood, stepped on the scale: 154.
Solid. He nodded.
Yesterday he was 155, on the same scale the Nevada commission will use today, at about 5 p.m., when he weighs in officially.

He ate a breakfast, just some egg whites, very light, as he wants no surprise later this afternoon. “My mind today is on fight time and on the weigh-in,” the 30-year-old, promoted by Lou DiBella, told me.

And will there be lunch? “I’m not sure; maybe I won’t be able to eat,” the 17-0-2 (11 KOs) boxer said.

A fighter meeting, with the ShoBox crew, will be a nice distraction, keep him from hearing that rebellious, angry stomach grumbling at him.



And does he wish he didn’t have to do that prep meeting? “No, it’s all good; it doesn’t bother me,” the junior middleweight contender, looking to go 3-0 in 2015, said. “They get to know me more; I get to know them.”

And then that’s done…Is that peak cranky time, the hours leading to the weigh-in? “Yeah, I think so,” Galarza said.

He will be thinking about how he will handle Hurd at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and he tells me he’s watched some clips but there isn’t much YouTube on the kid. “He looks strong, solid. It should be an electrifying fight.”

And does he have a prediction on how he handles business in this one, set for 10 rounds or less? “I predict that I win because I’ve already won. In camp, I won. I didn’t come here to lose. I came a long way to here…If he thinks he came here for an easy win, he’s in for a rude awakening.”

Jay Bulger, the filmmaker who made “Beware Of Mr. Baker,” which I mightily enjoyed, can speak to the “long way” Galarza has come.

He’s filmed Frank for a year for a Netflix doc he’s making, about Galarza and Peter Quillin, Darmani Rock, Cam F. Awesome and Chris Colbert. Bulger wants to figure out why these young guns do it, why they deal with the risk and uncertainty and physical pain. Is it for fame and fortune or to prove something to themselves or others or what?

“Frank is a next-level human being,” Bulger said. “So many fighters today are not fighting the fights fans want to see. They are getting paid and want to get paid more than ever and are not heroes in their community. Frank is. He’s not in this to be a champion to make money. He’s in it to win a platform to get his message out. He wants to touch as many people as possible with his story. He saw his dad murdered at age seven, his mom die of a heroin OD at nine. At 20, his only sibling, his brother, was murdered. He decided he’d leave a life of crime and use boxing to communicate his thoughts, feelings, his message, of what boxing is capable of. In Frank, people have a someone who is a hero in his community, who represents boxing as it’s meant to be. He’s not a track star; he’s exciting, looks for the KO and isn’t there to talk about his sneaker collection.”

ShoBox is sold as a launching pad, a place to get your diploma and move on up. “Jeffersons” stuff… Does Galarza see this bout as graduation night? “Yeah,” he said. “I’m hoping it is.”

Nope, he’s not overlooking Hurd…but next up, maybe a title crack against a name. Yep, he’s thinking and hoping it happens.

No, he won’t be hitting the all-you-can-eat buffet, with some of the tubby writers, after he hits the scale. “I will eat a bunch of meals after the weigh-in but I will eat clean. Then I’ll be in my room all night. Maybe go out for some air, walk around a little.” He figures to enter dreamland between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. Ideally, Galarza said, his last thought before entering REM zone is him standing over a kayoed Hurd, he said, chuckling.

He could easily sleep a full 12 hours, he said, and then will get up, eat chow, eggs, oatmeal, maybe some home fries, some extra starch for energy. “Nothing crazy though,” he said.

Then, he’ll walk around, visualizing the game plan and winning. A nap is next, maybe around 1 or 2. He’ll head to the venue Saturday at around 5.

And when does his GAME FACE get affixed, the sort of Manson-y one? “Backstage, as we’re headed to the ring. Then I know we’re in for war.”

Galarza will stride to ring with trainers Nirmal Lorick and Rafael Vasquez, along with cutman Danny Milano.

“I’ve come a long way,” he says, asking for a shout-out to loyal manager AJ Galante, and a plug for the non-profit he reps, Youth Fighting Forward, which works on speaking to at-risk kids all around the world, sending the message that they can get off that risky path to a smarter, more spiritually rewarding arc.

“I’m fighting to let the younger generation know they can do anything, anything you put your mind to,” Galarza said. “Anything is possible when you keep working till you accomplish what you want to accomplish.”

Galarza is a true believer. He hasn’t fallen into the sometimes cynical “Boxing is a business” mindset which encourages taking all one can get from the sport, maybe not giving back as much, which has fighters avoiding stiff tests because they believe the contract has changed, that risk aversion is the righteous path. The new breed of risk-averse pugilists think only fools rush in and are willing to risk defeat and injury to close the show in an entertaining and aggressive fashion. And once the wins are accumulated, it’s time for titles and fat checks and then consumption, the houses, the cars, to prove worth and announce, brag really, that success has been achieved. Be like me; make money, and that will signal you have made it, many of that new breed will tell you, in all its Instagrammed glory. Galarza is refreshingly old-school. The sport has been his savior and he wants to treat it with reverence and give fans value for their time and money.

My take: This is a guy I do and make no apology about rooting for. He gets it, what boxing used to be, what it can still do, and be.

 

A wise man once said we can be heroes, just for one day. No, it wasn’t Michael Woods; it was David Bowie.

 

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