Israel “Reysito” Santiago may only be 35 years old; however, his boxing maturity and acumen is many years beyond his actual age.
A product of the mean streets of Philadelphia, PA, he was a Junior Olympics fighter for over eight years. Unfortunately, the lure of the street became too great for him to overcome. He now realizes that he gave up a promising boxing career to run with some bad guys.
When his family relocated to New Bedford, MA, he came under the tutelage of Bobby Vincent of the New Bedford Boys and Girls Club. He was able to graduate from New Bedford High School in June 1993 and even finished a semester at New England Tech in Warwick, RI, where he studied computer programming under a Massachusetts state grant. When the state grant money stopped, he was forced to leave.
He has had over 24 years experience in boxing, initially as a fighter and now as a manager and trainer. Currently he is guiding the careers of welterweights Johnny Vazquez and Joel Alcaron plus heavyweight prospect Kevin Cobbs. Both Vazquez and Cobbs are undefeated as professional whereas Alcaron’s career has hit speed bumps that Santiago hopes he can help him overcome. In addition, he is assisting several Golden Gloves and Junior Olympics level fighters through various developmental stages. Some of these younger fighters are very eager to turn pro because of the region’s limited economic prospects. Being a boxer might be a better deal than delivering pizzas for Domino’s!
Like the old time managers and trainers of yesteryear such as Doc Kearns (Jack Dempsey), George Gainford (Sugar Ray Robinson), Charlie Goldman (Rocky Marciano), etc., he closely monitors all aspects of his proteges’ training. He stands ready to lay down the law if they deviate from the rigorous regimen he expects them to follow. He is a proponent of the “tough love concept”. He knows that a boxer who has a casual attitude to the demands of the sport is not going to last. It is his way or the highway.
Santiago is the co-owner of the Heart Gym in New Bedford. He feels that he has the maturity and life experiences to guide the aforementioned fighters and any others that seek out his assistance. Although he feels comfortable working with Hispanic and Latino fighters, he is more than willing to offer his services to any serious fighters regardless of their ethnicity or gender. He knows first hand of the Spartan existence that a serious boxer must be willing to endure if he/she expects to have any degree of success. It is a very tough, demanding profession that requires the upmost dedication and effort. He knows that he can impart this knowledge to any who come to work with him.
Campbell Boxing Report