By Gabriel F. Cordero
Among the 2011 class of inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame is legendary Mexican trainer and manager Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain.
The 67-year-old Beristain has trained 20 champions including three Hall of Famers, Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez and Daniel Zaragoza. Currently he trains one of the best fighters in the world in recent years, three-time world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who is a serious contender for the Hall of Fame in the future.
What do you have to say about all this?
God has blessed me by letting me be part of boxing and now I need to live long enough to attend the Hall of Fame in Canastota in June 2011.
Where are you from?
I was born in Veracruz, in a town called Actopan and studied there through high school
When did you get involved in boxing?
My family wanted me to study to be an agricultural engineer but I remember being around boxing since age 7 and began to fight as an amateur.
Were you a professional boxer?
I did about 27 fights, 13 of them as a professional and others that weren’t registered. It was a tough time and I had a vision problem so I decided to get away. Cuyo Hernandez was my trainer among others. It was in 1959 that I retired from boxing due to an injury to my right eye. I left because I knew I was a limited fighter.
How did you become a boxing trainer?
I took a course for trainers in Mexico taught by trainers from Argentina. Since then my vocation was to train boxers.
How did you start working in organized boxing?
As a trainer of amateur fighters in the SCOP (Ministry of Communications and Public Works of the Mexican Government) and the amateur boxing team in Mexico training for the Olympics. We won medals in Mexico 68.
How about professional boxing?
I was with Adolfo Perez. “El Negro” which led me to Vicente Saldivar. From there I started to learn everything to be a professional manager.
From Vicente Saldivar, Daniel Zaragoza, Gilberto Roman, “Finito” Lopez and the Marquez Brothers which was the first?
Developed by Me? Daniel Zaragoza.
Tell us about your family?
I love my family. My sons, Javier, Ixchel, Yunuen, and Maria Angelica, all did university and master studies and have good professional careers. My greatest achievement is giving them the best of my job and life.
What would you say at this time of achievement?
Boxing saved me and has given me the chance to save others who may be walking in the wrong direction. It’s a sport that has helped many children on their way to the darkness and put them on track and allowed me to make them better men. All my life I have sought out young people from a life of drugs, crime and gangs. This is very beautiful.
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Beristain goes daily to the Romanza Gym in Iztacalco, DF at 8:30AM and leaves around 3PM.