Why they respect Marvin
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 5, 2019 - 12:00am

LOS ANGELES – Freddie Roach’s former chief assistant Marvin Somodio is now on his own, running a gym called the Combinations Boxing Academy in Lawndale near the Los Angeles Airport. The 4,000-square foot facility is on its third month and reaching break-even is just around the corner with membership growing beyond expectations.

Somodio, 35, was recruited by Roach to work as the master’s apprentice at the Wild Card Gym here in 2012. They met in Baguio while Sen. Manny Pacquiao was training for Miguel Cotto. Somodio then worked as a trainer for Anson Tiu Co at the Shape Up Gym in the Cooyeesan Hotel Plaza. While at Wild Card, Somodio was exposed to big-name fighters and slowly but surely, made a name for himself as a top-notch trainer.  

A former pro, Somodio travelled to Russia, Monaco, Mexico, China, Puerto Rico and different cities in the US as a trainer for several world champions including Ruslan Provodnikov, Brian Viloria, Denis Lebedev, Cotto, Viktor Postol and Pacquiao. From Wild Card, Somodio branched out to work with fighters at Justin Fortune’s gym in L. A. and the Churchill gym, formerly Wild Card West, in Santa Monica.  Now married with two children, Somodio returned to Manila to renew his US visa last year and was invited by Pacquiao to join his training team for the Keith Thurman fight.

Somodio, who was with the ABAP pool for four years, said he owes what he has become to Pacquiao. “Sabi ni Manny, instrument lang siya para tulungan ako,” he said. “Blessing galing kay God ang nangyari sa buhay ko through Manny.”

At the Combinations Boxing Academy, Somodio is what Roach is to Wild Card.  He has two assistants David Cerros and Trooper Franklin. They conduct group classes, provide personalized training and keep the gym clean. The facility is open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. There are over 100 regulars who work out in the one-storey building. Members pay $135 a month for a one-year plan or $200 for a 10-day plan. Walk-ins pay $25 a day. Somodio said about 70 members are on a one-year plan.  The youngest member is eight years old and the oldest is in his 70s.

“At the start, I did everything from starting with a 7 a.m. group class, to teaching kids, training pros and doing another group class at 6 p.m. every weekday,” he said. “It was exhausting so I brought in two assistants. I met David at Wild Card and it was perfect that he lives just down the street.”

Customers often drop by and insist only on working with Somodio because of his reputation. Among the pros who train at the Academy are David Benavidez, Dmitry Bivol, Sergei Kuzmin, Christian Robles and Filipino Mercito Gesta. Somodio said Lebedev, the former WBA/IBF cruiserweight champion, is making a comeback at 40 after a one-year layoff and has called for his services. He’ll train Lebedev for five weeks in Moscow preparatory to his fight against Thabiso Mchunu of South Africa on Dec. 21. Before leaving for Russia, Somodio will work Gesta’s corner in a fight against Carlos Morales on Nov. 14.

Somodio and business partner Brendan O’Reilly signed a five-year lease on the Academy’s property, paying $5,500 a month rent. With utilities and overhead to pay for, Somodio said his target to make a profit is a membership of 300 although 200 may be enough to do it. “About 80 percent of our members come in to get or stay fit,” said Somodio. “About 10 percent are female. On a busy day, we could get 30 people at a time working out. Some UFC and Bellator MMA fighters come over to enhance their boxing skills. We’ve got eight heavy bags and we need two more, five double-end bags, four speed balls, two treadmills, two stationary bikes, free weights and two boxing rings. We also have a sauna which is unique to a boxing gym.”

The success that Somodio is enjoying couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy in boxing. He’s humble, hard-working, honest, respectful and dedicated. Somodio endured a lot of heartaches along the way. Some took advantage of his kindness, others didn’t care about his welfare. But Somodio never took it against anyone who has done him wrong. It’s why he’s blessed and why he’s well-respected and well-liked in boxing circles.

FREDDIE ROACH
Philstar
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