First, a quick prelude to story that took place in Vegas one evening where an on duty detective bumped into Mayweather one night.
Over the last eight months or so I got to spend a lot of time in what many consider to be the fight capital of the world – Las Vegas.
Certainly on the way back to that status in boxing if the next few months are anything to go by – Mayweather vs McGregor later this month and Golovkin vs Canelo on September 16th.
Over the course of two trips, one about a month long and the other about five weeks in duration, I discovered a lot of behind the scenes information about the boxing business, what really goes on it, who’s who, what’s what, the people who run the sport, the people behind the scenes who the general public don’t know who make the sport tick, and the often colourful, bizarre characters and very human stories that the sport produces from amateur level.
Without betraying confidences, I cannot go into everything above and some of which I’ll save for a rainy day, but suffice to say, as a boxing journalist and life long fight fan – it was truly eye opening and a real thrill.
SEE ALSO: The insane Mayweather training regime
One story and theme that kept cropping up time and time again was how the city’s most famed fighting son Floyd Mayweather Junior often goes under the radar for his charitable donations but also the time and personal help he gives the less fortunate of Las Vegas.
Every Thanksgiving for example Mayweather can be often seen not just donating huge amounts of turkeys to the town’s homeless, but getting stuck in himself at the front lines of things passing them out.
Indeed, I remember similar tales years before I ever worked in boxing when I was in his gym for the first time.
But after been back there a few times more recently since starting Boxing News and Views in 2015 and meeting members of his close circle, and speaking to the people who actually work in the fight business in the US, he definitely appears to be a bit of a misunderstood character in some aspects.
— Niall Doran (@NiallerDoran) December 29, 2016
Away from the glitz and glamour of the lights and shiny billboards of Sin City lays a brutal economic reality for some that fall into the wrong crowd.
Having said that, like many parts of the world, the remnants of a truly vicious global recession now seem to be lessening a bit.
The entertainment-driven local economy of Vegas now has a population of nearly 640,000 alone, a far cry from the small mob-run town it started out as.
During my time there I was fortunate enough to get to know a man and boxing coach by the name of Pat Barry.
I can’t begin to say enough good things about him and his wife Dawn, the boxers they trained and the many, many new things about boxing, life and indeed myself that I learned because of them.
Pat Barry is an Irish-American and a retired detective that served in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
A former professional boxer from New York, he moved to Las Vegas when he started working as a police officer in Las Vegas and later met his wife there.
Together they now both run the largest amateur boxing facility in Las Vegas, Barry’s Boxing.
He is one of the most renowned behind the scenes trainers in the United States and has trained world champions such as Clarence (Bones) Adams and and Jessie Magdaleno.
Perhaps one remark a prospective boxer looking to join his gym made about Pat one day summed him best, and also the respect from the many Americans I met who held him in high esteem.
A chap from California walked into the gym one day who was moving to Vegas for career purposes.
He had previously trained at Freddie Roach’s world famous Wild Card gym in Hollywood and told me that Freddie Roach personally recommended that if he’s looking for a boxing gym in Vegas – to simply look no further than Pat Barry.
Personal recommendations like that often go unsaid behind the scenes, granted. However I think it’s important some are told.
— Barry's Boxing (@barrysboxing) May 18, 2014
Pat and his wife Dawn Barry’s work for the local community of Las Vegas and youth in the area through the sport of boxing has won them numerous awards and has been recognised many times locally.
They are now also the head of Nevada Boxing USA (I later found out). You wouldn’t know it though, they could be any married couple.
(A typical day of sparring at Barry’s Boxing Club)
Although, the strong New York accents are a bit of a giveaway that they’re not from the West Coast, as is Mrs. Barry’s rather unique and highly entertaining no holds barred sense of humour.
The following is an extract in his own words from Pat Barry sent to us at Boxing News and Views about one evening how he bumped into a certain Floyd Mayweather on the Vegas strip.
Years after Floyd Mayweather had first walked through the doors of Barry’s Boxing Gym as a much younger man but still (as Pat told me) as confident a Floyd Mayweather as ever, even back then, where he had once trained when he first moved to Vegas to live with his uncle Roger and was then managed by his other uncle Jeff – Pat said:
“I was working on an overtime assignment one evening in Las Vegas and was standing in front of the night club at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
All of a sudden there was a small but growing crowd of curiosity seekers and it was looking as though there might be an issue brewing. My partner and I went over to identify ourselves as police officers and inquire as to what all the commotion was about. As we got closer – the crowd began to separate and in the middle of their midst was the champ – none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr. He saw me and walked right up to me and while hugging me he asked:
‘How are you and your wife doing?’
We had watched Floyd win many boxing matches since he was a young boy at amateur level and I was thinking to myself, at that time, with all these people who wanted to steal just a minute of his time – how incredible that he was making time for me in such a public fashion.
Floyd then enthused:
‘Coach Pat, I am going to make a big donation to your boxing club, after one of my next big money fights.”
I just simply responded:
‘Champ you’re the greatest.’
Floyd continued to say he knew how much we (Dawn & I) have done and do for the Las Vegas community and how we have always been there for so many of the kids in the area. This really amazed me and my face must had shown it – because he went on:
‘I am serious Coach Pat – I am talking about a million something!’
Well I am glad I didn’t turn in my uniform that night because it has been about ten years and I have not received any donation as of yet. I am still a Floyd Mayweather fan though, and always will be.”