Mr. Fernandez is an award-winning writer, TV commentator, radio talk show host, former San Francisco Policeman and four-time Golden Gloves champion.
Show: Ring Talk Radio
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF PEDRO FERNANDEZ
By Socrates Palmer Jr
Controversial, arrogant and passionate are a few words that can be used to describe boxing internet writer Pedro Fernandez. For the past 25 years, he has brought his unique brand of radio to boxing fans via his Ringtalk show. A native of San Francisco , California the 51 year-old Fernandez has been involved in the sport for nearly four decades. He was first bitten by the boxing bug in 1969. Fernandez recalled a fist fight he had when he was about 12 years old, and a spectator was former world ranked heavyweight Eddie Machen (who has the distinction of fighting Joe Frazier, Ingemar Johansson and Sonny Liston before they won the heavyweight championship). According to Fernandez, Machen grabbed him by his shirt collar and pulled him off of his unfortunate opponent that day. From that day forward until his untimely death in 1972, Machen became a mentor to a young Fernandez. Fernandez fought out of a local Boys and Girls Club. From age 13 until his mid twenties, Fernandez reports that he went undefeated for seven years. Fernandez became a four-time California Golden Gloves champion. Despite the amateur accolades Fernandez never pursued professional boxing. Instead Fernandez became a police officer in his native San Francisco, serving for nine years.
“I saw the residual effect that boxing did to some pros and some guys in the amateurs; I just did not want to be some cartoon character. I realized my limits. I know I could have done well but not win a world title. I always wanted to be best in everything I do never want to be second best, so I chose my niche in boxing away from the ring. 25 years later I’m still here and better than ever”, Fernandez.
Fernandez says that being around the sport at such a high level exposed him to the dark side of how professional boxing left many of its employees. Fernandez feels that his ring experience gives him credibility that other the boxing pundit can’t compensate.
“Dan Rafael of ESPN, could not lick a stamp if you wet his tongue. Look at him he’s grossly overweight, and a total phony. He’s nothing more than a Top Rank shill. Who goes to Vegas and he sleeps on Top Rank couches, I said couch-es because he needs more than one to lay down on. He knows nothing about boxing. So many guys like him are frauds and kiss asses and worry about blowing people. I can look at myself in the mirror I wonder if Dan Rafael can do that? I write from the heart. There are guys out there worried to put out a story because their afraid of losing their credentials to a fight”, complained Fernandez.
Fernandez knows that agenda driven media has been around the sport since the beginning of time, but he claims to be different.
“You can’t lie to people you have to be honest to yourself. Do I spin things at times to make some stories entertaining? Yes, but I never have told a bold face lie and the bottom line I believe in what I say, I don’t come on the air hoping that people are going to like everything I say that’s just not realistic. It’s a 60/40 split people like you or dislike what you do. I believe 60/40 is a good balance, either way is cool with me”, Fernandez.
A press conference in 2000 starring then “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather illustrated Fernandez’s hot-and-cold effect. Upon making eye contact with Fernandez, Mayweather yelled at him, “You’re the best boxing writer there is!” Moments later Mayweather had a different opinion on Fernandez, after this question: “Do you think you give real fight fans their money’s worth?
Mayweather replied, “Man what do you know about boxing? I’m not talking to you.”
Fernandez believes that it’s the nature of the beast, to ruffle some feathers if one is so fortunate to be around long enough and if you’re not afraid of expressing your opinion. “Me personally I don’t think Floyd, is good for boxing. He acts like Ghetto Urchin and in reality he’s a studio gangster. He’s been caught hitting people with bottles at parties, taking cheap shots at people with his body guards. You heard about the latest thing a couple of months back with the shooting at a roller skating rink, he’s really no good. He’s also a boring fighter to watch, he fought a guy in Marquez who people saw from the first few rounds that he was clearly superior to, instead of taking him out he carried him around and was content putting everyone to sleep for twelve rounds in the audience,” said Fernandez.
Prior to his Ringtalk.com show winding up in the Bay Area, The Sunshine state was where it all began for Fernandez. “I started doing some work out in Florida , for a guy named Charles Jay, and I had a15 minute show, and we called it Ringtalk. It’s been rough at times and we’ve moved around a bit but we have, gradually evolved now we are on for an hour on a 50,000 watts station, 860 AM San Francisco , 25 year later still going strong. Often imitated never duplicated”, Fernandez.
A few of Fernandez’s most controversial stories included fishing out Shane Mosley’s name from among the rest of the now infamous BALCO, sports performance drug using athletes. He is also no friend of Bob Arum, since he wrote allegations of Arum’s reported money laundering through Europe with then booking agent Stan Hoffman. Shortly thereafter, Arum admitted such in a United States department of Justice Affidavit. The fallout saw Arum fined in a number of states, while unable to promote in Arizona. Fernandez says he was slandered in a Las Vegas newspaper by Arum being quoted as stating, “He (Pedro Fernandez) isn’t a real boxing writer.” Arum settled out of court for $10,000.
Fernandez has also wrote about a 2005 bounced check to Yory Boy Campas and other dirty dealings within the Arizona Athletic commission lead by Mary Rose Wilcox. A political scandal is now developing as a result of Fernandez work in keeping the story alive
Aside from his column found on ringtalk.com, Fernandez has also served a television commentator for HBO’s international feed. However Fernandez tells Boxingtalk that the most memorable moments in boxing was in 1993 traveling with the living legend Muhammad Ali. “The highlight of my boxing life was working for Ali. He was good to me. I worked as his body guard and spokesperson during a tour of Asia. Myself, his personal photographer Howard Bingham, who’s a great guy in his own right, and his third wife Lonnie. It was an honor for me and they paid me to do this. The truth is that I would have paid them.”
Ali has become an ambassador to the world and during this 9 day tour of Asia he attended charity events and attended various functions. Fernandez remembers visiting a hospital with Ali that will always be entrenched in his memories. “We went to this hospital in Macau, China that was being run by this order of nuns and the place was really on hard times. It was the home for kids with severe disabilities and deformities. Ali was so taken back meeting these children, who despite all of their problems were the happiest kids you’d ever want to see. I remember Ali going into his pocket and pulling out about 700 dollars cash that he had on him. Then he asked, Bingham to take out whatever money he had in his pocket which was about 300 and I gave him something like 500 also. Ali handed all of it to this nun. I remember the look on her face of amazement. That’s the way it was with Ali, just a genuinely good person.”
An argument can be made that such stories albeit informational and eye-opening to the public are harmful to the overall image of boxing. Fernandez begs to differ that this type of journalism is needed to try to keep the sport as honest as it can get. He admitted that when he first started writing he had a fantasy that he could rid boxing’s corruptness and its many other evils. He says he’ll always quote the late great Howard Cosell, who said “you can’t clean dirt.” He says that his love for boxing is still strong as ever and that is why he is still around it. It pains him to see the state of boxing is in right now. “I’ve become boxing impotent, I’ve seen the negative impact its had on people, left them broken physically and broke financially. Congress wont get involved to fix the crookedness that goes on in boxing like the way they jumped on the steroid stuff in baseball, because they don’t give a fuck about a sport that is dominated by black guys and Latinos. Boxing has always been the red light district of sports,” Fernandez.
As for his days in radio, Fernandez says “I have a great team behind me, producer Scott Cutty, has 30 years of radio experience, has taken me to another level. It’s hard to believe its been 25years, time flies and I’m only getting better,” Fernandez.