Determination, courage, chance, opportunity, passion and foremost hard work and sacrifice are the essential traits behind each and every success in life, especially in sports. All athletes have a story. No matter what the sport is, it is always one of commitment, hard work, hardships and successes. Being an athlete for some is something they were born into through family, friends or community, but for most it is something they were destined to do even if there was no by default plan.
The following is the personal story of an athlete, who in my humble opinion is one of the most complete, passionate boxers, coach and supporter of the sport in the Pacific Northwest. OSN is proud to share a 1:1 with Freddy Coronado, the man who carries his heart on a sleeve, his strength in the mind and his passion for boxing through coaching, but is foremost a father who is never too scared to sacrifice his own goals for that of his son or other young athletes to make sure they make it further than anyone else.
Where It Began
Freddy was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. Like many other boys in Mexico, Freddy was full of energy, finding ways to stay busy, looking up to those around him and at times having to grow up faster as he strived to finding that one place where he belonged in the midst of what some would define as a difficult childhood.
Freddy was raised by his uncles. He did not see his mother for years—she was always working—so his uncles and aunts stepped in. Out of that group of uncles and aunts, Freddy refers to his “Papa Ramon” and his “Mama Rita” who raised him growing up. His Mama Rita passed away when he was 13. From that point on, his Papa Ramon was the one who took care of him.
Regardless of the struggles growing up, Freddy had a happy heart, an intrepid mind and an attitude of “can do” like no other had. He describes running around the neighborhood with his friends doing good deeds—and sometimes getting into trouble—and, of course, that’s how his love for “fighting” commenced.
Freddy: I’ve been fighting since I was 10 or nine down in Mexico. I was born and raised in Mexico, in the state of Chihuahua. Fighting was one of the reasons I got kicked out of school. I was always fighting. I was struggling; I guess I was just a fighter.
OSN: How did you transfer the “fighting” skills to a structured environment instead of the trouble you found at school?
Freddy: Basically in Mexico, every Saturday there are tournaments in the hood. Kids on the streets they always had a local neighborhood competition. Sometimes they bring their friends, cousins, etc. You know how that goes.
OSN: Were they official community organized events?
Freddy: No, you know how it is down in Mexico—you just get together. I fought for a few years. Did well. I liked it. As years went by, I kept fighting. I wasn’t going to school. I was not getting an education, but I was fighting.
Arriving to the US, losing Papa Ramon and becoming a teen parent
OSN: How did you end up in the US?
Freddy: I was just a kid. I wasn’t planning to come to the US, cross the border or any of that. Not like many immigrants who want to come up here for a better life. I never thought about that, not because I was making a lot, but it just wasn’t in my mind. However, my then girlfriend’s father decided to move his family to the US, so when she moved, I had to follow. I came up to the states and four months later my Papa Ramon passed away so I went back for the funeral. That was very very hard.
In the middle of it all, I was already fighting, competing, training. But when I came back, I found out she was pregnant. I guess the way I see it, the man upstairs, he took an angel away from me, but he was giving me another one through a baby, and I was excited; I was happy.
However, being pregnant and that young was not easy. At that time, they kicked us out of the house. We were young kids. We were not married or old enough to get married. I continued to fight for a couple of years later after my kid was born.
OSN: How did being a teen parent affect your boxing career?
Freddy: Actually I was fighting under Charlie Rios’ guidance. He was my main coach, and then I retired in 2001. I decided not to fight anymore. The reason I retired was because after my son was born and having been a person that never met my father, ever since I was a little kid—maybe 12 or 13—I always told myself I was always going to be there. ‘I am going to be there 100 percent,’ I would tell myself. I am going to play baseball, soccer with them, whatever they want to do. I promised myself I would give him the best of me—maybe not the best of the world, but the best of me. At that time when his mom got pregnant, when that happened, it didn’t push my boxing career aside. But with time it was my own decision to be fully dedicated to my son and be a full-time dad. Boxing takes a lot of sacrifices—a lot of time, and if I wasn’t going to do it 100 percent, I decided not to do it at all.
From losing his first fight to becoming undefeated in Portland, Oregon
OSN: Where was your first fight?
Freddy: My first fight was in Portland. Back in the day, they used to have shows in the Portland Police Academy—back in 1993—so way back in the day at the Grand Avenue Boxing Club. They used to hold events there, so that’s how I did it. But that was my first fight and I lost.
Knott Street, Grant Ave and West Portland boxing clubs: They have been here forever; they are pioneers in boxing in the state of Oregon. There was a coach I asked to train me, but being a professional boxing coach, he told me straight out when I asked him to train me that he did not train amateurs, only pros. But I remember my first fight here; I lost it. I lost because I wasn’t fully prepared for a battle. I didn’t have a coach. They just threw me in and I lost bad.
OSN: How many rounds did you last?
Freddy: I lasted the full rounds. I was a tough kid, probably like Myron’s kid, Kevin Evans, from West Eugene Boxing Club now days. I was a kid like that. He punched me so many times on my face I am sure he had bruises on his knuckles the day after. But I lasted the rounds. It was after that fight that I saw this man, this older guy. He was like 70 or 80 and I asked him, “would you train me?”
And I remember I told him what happened, and at that time I had very limited English but I was able to communicate and told him what happened with my fights and he wasn’t happy about it. So he said, ‘Okay, I will give you one shot. Show up tomorrow at 3 o’clock.’ So I showed up and he trained me and we went through the whole process. I fought from 1993 – 2007.
OSN: What was his name?
Freddy: Arnold Manning. He trained me and asked me if I felt good. And he put me on a three- or four-week trial—I can’t remember—and he liked my work ethic and dedication so he started to train me and then he said ‘okay, you are ready. Let’s go.”
OSN: How did your second fight go?
Freddy: After having a coach, I went to fight another kid at a club, at a bar. I can’t remember the name of it. But we went there for my second fight. I totally, completely dominated the first round and put him away on the second one. I did not lost any fights after that. I went undefeated until I retired. And in 2007, I came out of retirement because of my son. He remembered when he was a young kid going to the gym with me all the time and he was about two or three years old then, but he never remembered me watching me fight. So when he was about eight or nine, he asked me if I wanted to go back and do another fight. So I was like, ‘sure, why not?’ I was still young in my 20s at that time so I knew I could do it. I was in my 20s so I started training again. I was out of shape and overweight, like 60 pounds over the class I used to compete in. So I dropped the weight started competing and lost two and won five during that period of time.
OSN: Out of all of your fights which one was the most memorable one?
Freddy: To be honest, all of them! But, the seven fights I did on my comeback, they were the best fights I ever had because in every single one my son was there. He was always the first one to hop in the ring to be with me. And for me that was a win-win. My son was there. I have videos of those fights. He was a tiny kid and it was awesome! It was the best fights I ever fought. I have other fights that were good fights and good shows and I feel good about them, but nothing compares to the ones my son running to me and hugging me.
Becoming Coach Freddy
OSN: How did you transition from a boxer to a coach?
Freddy: Well at the time, like I said, I couldn’t dedicate myself to the sport, but I knew that a lot of coaches like Charlie Rios and Myron Johnson knew me from my fighting years and they told me I had natural talent. They told me I had it, and I felt it was time for me to pass something onto the next generation.
I had the experience as a fighter, but not as a coach, and I was like, ‘how could I help? How can I help kids?’ Having being a young father and being able to communicate with my son and such good relationship I had with him, I thought to myself: ‘If I can do it with him, I can do it with someone else.’ So Charlie Rios said, ‘Come on over.’ I started helping with small things but he also said, ‘I know you are capable to do many things.’
OSN: Did you go through a coaching certification process?
Freddy: Yeah, you have to become a certified coach and stuff like that. I took the class and got certified to work in the corner, but their vote of confidence, that was the main reason I did it.
And the second reason is that I don’t want young kids to go through life like I did. I don’t want them to go through that. I want them to reach their full potential on whatever they do. I want to be able to help these young kids reach their goals, fight for their dreams whatever they may be. If they want to be champions, train hard, lose weight. I want them to be good fighters. I feel that I am good at motivating people and I am good at helping people. And Charlie and I have a great relationship, so I went for it.
OSN: Every coach I have spoken to has told me the tremendous amount of hours it takes when you coach. So you told me you stopped fighting because it took a large amount of commitment and you wanted to do it right. So help me understand: How does coaching work better for you as it sounds that at times is even more hours?
Freddy: You know what, it does! It takes a lot of time, a lot of dedication and sometimes money! Because you know we get a lot of these kids who come from very low-income families and sometimes they don’t have enough money to register. But you are looking at this kid with a lot of talent, smart, listens to you and he is doing everything he should to compete and succeed as a boxer, but sometimes they don’t have a sponsor or the parents don’t make enough income to pay for the annual registration. Sometimes they don’t have the sponsor or support, or the parents don’t have the money so we pay the coaches—sometimes we pay for that.
Now, comparing boxing and coaching. Yes there is a little more to being a boxer than coaching. Because when you coach, you don’t have to worry about making weight, running in the morning or working out between six and seven hours a day. You work out in the morning, in the evening. So it’s a little different. So if I wanted to combine my boxing career with my son’s baseball career that would be very difficult.
OSN: What is your coaching style?
Freddy: My style is being smart in the ring. The number one thing I love to have before I send anyone out to the ring is their stamina; being able to last, being in condition. You know, being able to last through the last round. I always remember what my coaches told me and I try to pass it on to my assistants. When you are going to fight, you are going to complete three hard rounds. Whatever the round is, you are going to compete and I don’t want you to get tired on the first, second round or that you run out of gas. If you lose the fight, it’s OK you lost because the other guy was a better guy and you do not win. But you are not going to go back to that corner, all exhausted all drained out who can’t go anymore. No. That’s not the kind of fighter I train.
OSN: What techniques do you put into your coaching strategy?
Freddy: Obviously stamina and speed. I love speed more than power. Speed will generate power. Speed over power; speed over power. If you are faster, you are always going to be able to beat the bigger and stronger guy.
OSN: If a boxer comes to you, asks you to be his/her coach, how would you get him started?
Freddy: I would definitely start with the fundamentals. I am picky about the fundamentals and mechanics. I like to teach you the right way. It’s like building a big house you know? If you have a strong foundation, strong legs and good mechanics, then everything else, you will pick up.
OSN: You are the second person that mentions strong legs in the last couple of interviews I’ve done. When does strength and speed come together in the training or the fight?
Freddy: When you start teaching someone speed—speed will generate power. Speed will always beat power. If you put in 110 percent of work and effort, you will generate power. You will become more athletic. People don’t realize how athletic they are until they get someone who works with them to get their full potential to do something extraordinary. So if you don’t have the right guidance or the right training you will never find out. So, speed number one: Speed over power.
Speed over power. Number one is mechanics foundation, number two is speed. Reach your potential. So number one: mechanics, because it’s your foundation. Number two: speed. Work 130 percent of the round, busy busy busy. Some other coaches have other styles, My style is stay busy, busy, busy. If you stay busy, you don’t get hit. That’s the name of the game.
OSN: How many fighters do you have now?
Freddy: Right now we have Jason Kaylor, 34 years old, heavyweight. Daniel Schneegans, 20 super lightweight. Nihar Reddy, 27 middleweight. Connor Haly, 15 super lightweight. Carlos Flores, 14 bantamweight.
OSN: What is your championship training record?
Freddy: Two Oregon Golden Glove Championships (Oscar Herrera, 2014 & Jairo Estrada 2015). One regional Golden Glove Championship Oscar Herrera 2014.
OSN: What does it take to become part of Freddy Coronado’s competition team?
Freddy: To be able to join the competition team, I am always looking for commitment to be able to be there. The words that I tell the people that want to get in or look into competing, I always tell them: ‘Before you make a commitment to me, look at yourself, look at the pieces of your life together and look and see what your priorities are. Are you willing to put in all this work to compete? Or do you just want to do this for fun? What do you want to do? What are you willing to do? Because I am picky. I expect you to be here at certain times, seven days a week, and if you are not going to be there I am not going to be happy. And it will cost you.”
OSN: Cost them? How so?
Freddy: Well, I usually have different exercises for different people that don’t show up, people that aren’t respectful, people that are not participating in the way they should participate. So it’s either, push ups, running, sit ups, etc.
If you are part of my team, I take different people individually. Every personality and style I work with. You have to get to know the fighters and learn about them.
OSN: To get the fighter to listen to you, they have to trust you. How do you earn that? Obviously the boxer is doing his/her part, showing up, training, following the diet. What are the coach’s responsibilities?
Freddy: So basically it goes back to when I realized I could be a good coach. If I can have a good relationship with my son, I can definitely develop a strong relationship with other kids. I respect them because I want to earn their respect. That is how it all starts.
OSN: Back in my coaching years in basketball I had two girls who were really good but they were lazy. So I had to kind of push them from time to time. What does Freddy do when he has to push a boxer who is falling back, is too comfortable or too cocky?
Freddy: Oh yeah, definitely you know personalities. Personalities is one of the things you really have to deal with. As coaches, you know some people think that is all we deal with—but no, we deal with all kinds of things and personalities, different ways of people listening to you. Because the message you give is important because what type of message it is that you want to send? So the perfect approach to every individual is a 1:1 approach.
Freddy certainly has a high level of commitment and self-imposed expectations for his role as a coach. He is committed, and not only to the competition side of boxing, but also in the fitness and recreational side. In addition to his coaching, Freddy teaches boxing classes Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 6:00 – 7:00 PM at all levels. His competition team meets from 7:00 – 8:00 PM and he also has an all women class on Tuesday and Thursdays from 7:00 – 8:00 PM and Saturday from 11-12 at Hillsboro Impact.
And while his classes are offered through a local partnership with Hillsboro Impact, Freddy Coronado’s competing team fights under his name. The future in his words is perhaps “not clear” but it could possibly involve an official sponsorship or continue to fight under his name as they have so far. His main goal is to reach out to as many as he can or as he put it to inspire and support:
“Always follow and fight for you dreams—pursue them. Don’t let anybody pay you $14 an hour to give up on them. Be always happy, do something that you like and makes you happy. Always remain humble and help others.”
As far as a message to parents of young kids out there: “It is always easier and better to raise smart and strong children than it is to repair broken adults. We are not just teachers, coaches or parents. We are the managers of the world’s greatest resource “OUR CHILDREN” and remember they are not things to be molded but people to be unfolded.”
To kids themselves: Kids who want to box and train, “We turn them into champions … We did it in the past … and we can do it again.”
Talking to Freddy Coronado was truly talking to a man who loves the sport, athletes and his son more than he loves himself. The level of dedication this man puts forth is priceless. Priceless to those he trains, mentors or supports. Perhaps not so much priceless to him, as the sacrifices he has taken for his own career or made at the expense of his personal life can certainly be something most of us can admire and write about for years. But it is not something many of us would be able or be willing to do as he has. It is for that reason, that Freddy Coronado is not only another coach but he is a cornerstone in the Portland boxing community.
He has been in the ring, he has been in the corner and he is next to each and every one of his pugilist’s morning run or evening workout. If the bill needs to be paid for his fighter to make it to the next level, he isn’t afraid to step up and support without expecting anything in return. He is a friend his boxing community will call upon and the mentor boxers look for in a coach.
On behalf of those of us who follow the Oregon’s boxing scene, thank you, Freddy Coronado, for sharing with OSN the story of the young kid, the teen father, the undefeated boxer, the coach, the friend and mentor that you are to all respectively, especially your son, as we are sure he is proud to call a man of your caliber Dad.