The Patrick Ford story
April 22, 2004
Patrick Ford, who once went 15 rounds with Salvador Sanchez for the WBC featherweight championship of the world in 1980, is currently training fighters at Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, New York.
Ford, born in the South American country of Guyana, was the first Guyanese to fight for a world title. Four months after his match-up with Sanchez for the WBC featherweight title on September 13th, 1980, he fought Eusebio Pedroza for the WBA version of the title on Valentine's Day in 1981.
Unfortunately, Ford was unsuccessful in capturing a world title, but he opened the doors to numerous fighters from Guyana who became world champions, such as Andrew `Six Heads' Lewis, Vivian Harris and Wayne Braithwaite.
Through his time as a fighter, Ford had the opportunity to work under the tutelage of legendary trainers Cus D'Amato and Eddie Futch, and he hopes to follow in their footsteps of developing world champions.
The 48 year-old former fighter made the transition to a trainer almost 15 years ago. Ford currently works with five amateur fighters, and one professional: NABA welterweight champion being Chris `The Mechanic' Smith.
Ford has also had the opportunity of training worldclass fighters such as Steve and Raul Frank and Andre Purlette (Guyanese), former WBO super middleweight champion Chris Eubank (Ford trained Eubank for his first five fights) and Glenwood Brown.
The peek-a-boo style
After Ford fought Pedroza for the WBA title in 1981, he began to train under legendary trainer Cus D'Amato. Ford only trained four months with D'Amato, and left because he could not handle the peekaboo style that D'Amato taught his fighters. Ford disliked the style because he felt he was too tall to be slipping and ducking under punches to create openings. Ford was a featherweight, and felt that he should use his height and reach to an advantage against the shorter featherweights.
While training under D'Amato, Ford had an opportunity to stay in D'Amato's house; boarding in a room that was adjacent to Mike Tyson's. Even though Ford believed the style of fighting D'Amato was teaching him was inappropriate for his featherweight frame, he felt he picked up some important concepts. The most important being the idea of hitting hard.
"D'Amato would tell a fighter, 'Do not hit at the target, hit through the target.' And that was his philosophy of power, instead of telling a fighter to hit hard. D'Amato was a trainer who used psychology to train his fighters," Ford said.
Learning at Futch's feet
Eddie Futch was training Alexis Arguello, when he took Ford into his camp.
While there, Ford said, he would get up at night to massage Futch's feet; Futch suffered from pain in his legs and feet. Ford said, "When I used to rub Futch's feet, he would tell me a lot of things about boxing. He told me about his short boxing career and why he became a trainer.
The reason why he stopped boxing was because his shoulder slipped out of place a lot. That is why he became a trainer. He also told me about three things that a fighter has to do when fighting. First, you have to have intention, think about what you intend to do. Second, you have to have position, position your body towards what you intend to do. And third, is execution, execute all the things you intend to do after you have positioned your body."
Despite falling short of winning a world title, boxing has been good to Ford. He is now making a living out of what he once was taught. And even though he admits he learned a lot from D'Amato and Futch, Ford tries to emulate the training techniques of Jack Blackburn (Joe Louis's trainer).
Ford read books about Blackburn and believes that Blackburn was the greatest trainer ever because of the disciplinary way in which he trained Louis. "Blackburn told Joe Louis, 'Never disobey me whenever I tell you to do something,'" Ford said. And he added that Louis only disobeyed Blackburn once: Blackburn had told him to knock out an opponent in the fifth round, but Louis knocked out his opponent in the sixth. He said when he asked Louis why he hadn't knocked out the man in the fifth round, Louis responded that he had wanted to give the spectators their money's worth.
Education is key
Ford believes education is important to a fighter because boxing always does not payoff. Though Ford fought twice for a world title and felt he had reached the top, he was not financially stable. In the two world title fights in 1980 and 1981, he made an estimated $30,000 for each fight. Ford said: "Training expenses came to $10,000. My manager had to get 33%, and my trainer had to get 10%. I had to pay back all of the money that I borrowed because I was not working when I was preparing for those fights. So at the end of both fights I was left with very little."
Boxing was not the only job that Ford held during his fight career. In Guyana, he had used his knowledge of boxing to teach children the art of the sport.
He was a sergeant in Guyana's paramilitary and he also was a plumber. Making sure that none of his fighters fall into a trap where they only can count on boxing to make a living, Ford is trying to begin an education programme within the Guyana North American Amateur Boxing Association (GNAABA). This organization tries to assist amateur boxers from Guyana who live in North America to further their careers in and outside the ring.
The organization is operated by Seon Bristol and Patrick Ford is one of the two trainers involved in the programme, the other trainer is Lennox Blackmoore.
Ford has dreams of one day developing a fighter into a world champion. But first, he has his eyes set on the 2004 Olympics. Ford has a fighter going to the second tournament of the Americas' Olympic Qualifier, a heavyweight by the name of Rudolph Pierre Louis who may represent Haiti at the Olympics if he qualifies in the tournament.
Boxing too 'bling'
As a former fighter, Ford feels boxing has lost some of its glory. Too many boxers are more interested in the 'bling' (flashy jewellery, money, lifestyle). "Fighters today don't utilize the basics of boxing because they are trying to be too flashy, or just look at the money as a motivation to fight, instead of having the simple desire to fight."
As a trainer, Ford believes trainers are not treated fairly by promoters or managers because trainers do not get a reasonable amount of money. "Trainers develop a fighter over a long period of time, and they don't receive a substantial amount of money.
On the other hand, the promoters and managers come along one day, when the trainers have finished developing the fighter, and profit off the completed work.
The trainers are the ones who put in all of the time and effort; the promoters and managers just obtain a bout for the fighter."
Ford ended his professional career in 1987 with a record of 174 (11 KO's).
He was able to attain the Guyanese, Commonwealth, and WBC Fecarbox featherweight titles. Apart from him there are two other Fords who have made the transition from boxer to trainer.
One is his nephew, Darius Ford and the other his brother, Reginald Ford, who fought the likes of Marvin Hagler, Mike McCallum, Bobby Watts, and MatthewHilton (fightnews.com).