Five-time world champion trainer Hector Bermudez has not had one of the most straight forward of lives. Having spent time behind bars in his early days, the New York native emerged from the penitentiary to becoming one of the best trainers that the United States has produced in recent decades.
Bermudez has coached four world champions, with the most recent behind Irish based Australian TJ Doheny who trains under the guidance of Bermudez in his Massachusetts base, a title that had been previously held by one of his other charges Jonathan Guzman. The champion trainer discussed life within his training camp to manager of nine world champions Mike Altamaura on Altamura’s ‘The Fight Game’ podcast,
He said, “I don’t really have a life outside boxing, I have my training camp in Massachusetts where I am more than a trainer. You have to be more than a trainer you have to be a parent and a guide to these fighters. It’s a 24-hour lifestyle. I study the game too I spend my days sacrificing to drive for better. I live in the gym and the camp and I do whatever I have to do to prepare my fighters.
“I know trainers who are more knowledgable than me. I have stood there and been like ‘wow’ with some people I’ve met in boxing, but we know hard work beats talent. You have to have a bond with your fighters and that is something I have with my fighters. I don’t have the knowledge to say why but I manage to get the best out of them. I’ve been training people since I was 15 years old this is all I know.”
MTK Global guided TJ Doheny became IBF super bantamweight champion in August of 2018, defeating Ryosuke Iwasa in Japan, who had beaten Yukinori Oguni, a fighter that had won the title from Jonathan Guzman who was trained by Bermudez. The North East US-based trainer discussed to ‘The Fight Game’ his emotions of winning back the IBF 122 pound crown with Doheny.
He said, “Due to visa issues the Guzman camp didn’t go to plan. We actually met in Japan before the fight where we lost to Oguni. So I was disappointed with that but it felt like it had come full circle when TJ Doheny won the title back. It was a great feeling to have that title back in the camp.
“TJ gave me one of the trophies at the end of the fight that he was awarded by the IBF and I cherish that. These things mean a lot. It was a long road to this point from my guys being beaten up to my guys winning.”
Bermudez, who trains new Top Rank signee Abrahama Nova, did over 10 years inside the prison system, a story in itself that you could write a book about itself. The famed trainer discussed the lead-up events to him spending over a decade in prison. “I was working with Verno Phillips and he had been going through some personal problems. I had tried to help him and get him in the gym but it wasn’t working and we lost the title to Paul Jones in England. Verno took off to Colorado so I had to find a way to make money to finance my commitment I had to the fighters.
“I went back to ‘cranking’ what people call hustling. I did it to pay to help pay for what needs paying for when you’re working with amateur fighters. Next thing I know I’m doing a 12-year sentence in prison. It wasn’t a shock either, I adjusted to the different space easily. It was more the time that was the hard thing to adjust too.”
“I was on the run in New York for a while and I was looking over my shoulders. I had beef and issues with other people hustling so when I came inside I was actually relieved. My first day in jail I was like ‘forget all of that’ and I ironically slept well. It wasn’t all like that I remember being in solitary confinement with just one pair of underwear. I became institutionalized but because of that, I can spend all day in the gym. That is where my drive comes from to this day.”