In a new Showtime clip with Jim Gray, Angel Garcia expresses regret for calling Keith Thurman the N-word at a press conference last January
Nowadays it’s easy to be idle and lose a good portion of ones day sitting on some device, clicking on videos from any number of the popular YouTube boxing channels and find somebody in the sport to dislike, or downright hate, for saying something either sideways or distasteful. Dozens of videos are being uploaded as you read this.
Last January Angel Garcia, the trainer and father of former two-division champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, was captured on video erupting at a Thurman vs. Garcia press conference held at Barclays Center. The elder Garcia addressed the WBA Welterweight champion Thurman as a “n____” about a half of a dozen times, and after also referring to his son’s upcoming opponent as “Ponytail”, he dropped the “B.A.N.” a few times – “B___h A__ N____.”
Now, we’re not going to solve the controversy that is the usage of the N-word over the next 300-400 words. That whole argument continues to be unsolvable and highly complicated. We could waste some invaluable time taking a look at why the word disappeared from follow-up albums to California-based Mexican rap group Cypress Hill’s How I Could Just Kill A Man (1991). And then, in contrast, take a look at why Puerto Rican rappers like Bronx, NY rapper Fat Joe is still using the word to this day without so much as an eye being batted. See, wrong time and place for this!
Wherever the use of the word stands with you, individually, despite the fact “n____” is casually used at the end of a lot of rap bars like it’s 1998 (and it’s a brand new trend in lyricism), it’s inarguable that it was inappropriate for an all-inclusive press conference for a professional sports event. For one of boxing’s most high-profile weight divisions!
Not to mention, Crawford vs. Garcia marked a continuation of the return of marquee boxing bouts to network television as a key cog in Premier Boxing Champions’ once-promising “free boxing” campaign. Furthermore, in an effort to garner a wider appeal among fans of the mainstream sports, the fight didn’t need this type of negative press before its eventual broadcast to CBS’ audience.
This writer was embarrassed by Garcia’s behavior, while also being aware that a large percentage of boxing fans could care less and simply loved the scene-causing smoke. Check out the comment sections on any of the videos with footage of the incident.
Now, this writer isn’t naive enough to not know the background “here”, and never considered Garcia a racist. Puerto Rican emcee Big Punisher’s Capital Punishment is still a personal favorite, and Pun used the word as much as Nas on any of his dozen albums. However, Garcia’s lack of couth in such a setting – one with the mixed company of white businessmen and network executives in suits – tarnished the image of this hard-working father and son team that trained and fought their way out of meager beginnings in Philadelphia. This writer previously appreciated rooting for the underdog father and son tandem in their big victorious moment on the Mayweather-Alvarez PPV undercard. This writer loved the fact that young Garcia owned a barbershop, employing a few black men and servicing a diverse clientele in Philly.
That was 2017, and Garcia’s run of outbursts – mostly viewed on YouTube videos away from the ring – finally culminated in some optics that confirmed this adult man had finally gone too far with his recklessness. There was no hatred towards him, but his story was no longer worth following. And then this past week, Garcia sat down beside his counterpart in September’s Garcia vs. Porter, Kenny Porter, and answered a series of questions from Jim Gray in a surprisingly lucid manner.
The guy really isn’t a piece of… work. Garcia is what a lot of us are – a work in progress. One who had a bad moment in a shouting match at a boxing press conference – after his adult son was called a ‘boy’ by the opponent.
In addition to a calm Garcia sharing some of his personal sacrifices including regular “9 to 9” work days he voluntarily put in to support his then teenage son’s quest to become a world champion, at the 5:04 mark Garcia was genuinely contrite as he stated, “…that last fight with Thurman. I’m a man, I accept my faults… I’m not perfect.”
Garcia never apologized during the clip with Gray, only mentioning “…the word I said…”, but this is boxing, and while professionalism is appreciated, the sport’s figures just aren’t going to all be angels. He did express regret, if not only because the fallout affected his effectiveness on fight night. Throughout the entirety of the clip viewers get to see that the father-son relationship we’ve come to know the past several years is real. Hell, it’s beautiful. The two men have accomplished some great feats together, and despite Angel rarely being named as one of the game’s best trainers, the pair of underdogs have amassed an impressive résumé while only dropping the fight with Thurman.
This Showtime sit-down with father/trainer Garcia, as well as father/trainer Porter, is a win. That goes for Garcia’s optics, and it works well for the promotion of Garcia vs. Porter. However, of course Garcia had one gaffe, if only just a minor one, during the 16:00-plus clip – and we knew there had to be at least one. After scoffing at accusations of him being a racist, Garcia’s defense nearly echoed some recent POTUS 45 comments that keep Twitter abuzz regarding his track record on racial matters. Right on cue, Porter and his black Apple Cap, or Newsboy, remained stoic as Garcia replied, “I got all kinds of people work for me.”
Well, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater folks. On Sept 8 fans are in store for a thrilling showdown between these two veteran blue-collar father-son teams, as all the focus rightfully shifts to the fighters and action inside the ropes. Tune in to see which fighter returns to world champion status – we’ll all win when these families feud.
Body photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime