Nacho Beristáin, the legendary coach who achieved glory without losing his dignity

Nacho Beristáin during a fight with Juan Manuel Márquez.  (REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

Nacho Beristáin during a fight with Juan Manuel Márquez. (REUTERS/Steve Marcus)

December 6, 2008. Nacho Beristáin witnesses an unprecedented beating. Manny Pacquiao is brutalizing Oscar de la Hoya. The grammage and height favorable to golden-boy they have only made barbarism more shocking. All theory went to waste as soon as the bell rang. It’s over. Round eight and there is nothing to do. Don Nacho knows it. He looks at his ward and tells her: “We stopped the fight. It’s a decision, Óscar. There’s no point dragging your prestige here”.

The wisdom of Beristain. One example of many. Like when he told Juan Manuel Marquez that even if he were a millionaire, there was no way to buy a new brain – an allusion to the savage fights that Dynamite he had throughout his career, especially at the end. The dignity of the fighters ahead of everything. Always. Without conditions. And don’t let anyone try to equate that protective mentality with an aversion to success. Don’t even try it, because there is no more successful coach in Mexico than Beristáin: 24 world champions. The last, King Vargas, crowned three weeks ago. And six Olympic medalists.

Battles, dignity and constant success

Beristáin knows everything about Mexican boxing. The glory and the failure; abundance and lack. This is how the wise are forged. And he is doubly so: because of the success that he shines in his record and because of his vivid human example. He faced everyone: the union of managers (an entire tyranny in Mexican boxing); a Joseph Sulaiman, president of the WBC for 39 years; to mercenary and advantageous promoters, watchword of this sport. He never took a step back. If his fighters are graceful and brave, he has been in the corner and on desks. That’s what Mexican boxing is all about: hitting smart.

Nothing is fortuitous. Gilberto Román, Daniel Zaragoza, the Márquez brothers, Yessica Chávez, Humberto González, Ricardo López, Sonia Osorio. Some names in his list of monarchs. In boxing, however, the numbers are the bottom line. What matters is the path. And on that route, Don Nacho has built a school. How much has high-performance sport changed in 60 years? Because that is how long Beristáin has been a coach. Advances, innovative methods, technology, science, health. Information there is a lot. Knowledge less. And Don Nacho has it. He has built it and fed it back for six decades.

“My only vice is watching boxing,” he said in an interview with Un Round Más. And it’s easy to believe. There is a lot of obsession in him, in his work, and in the imprint that accompanies his students: study the rival, practice until crazy; as they say in the field: fights are won in training. His teaching has a physical place: the Romanza gym in Iztacalco. But that is a convention, a formalism, because Beristáin’s school has intangible traits. There are things that are not bought: intelligence, honor, dignity. That is the Beristain seal. Yes, sometimes his tongue goes out and he is able to say without hesitation that a boxer “is going to be beaten.” Is he. He has never wanted to look good like anyone else.

“In boxing you win or you lose, and it’s not okay to cry. Losing a fight is a raw morality, there is nothing like victory.”Don Nacho said for Channel 11

That is why José Sulaimán, sovereign of the WBC, disliked him. He refused to help him with an amateur boxing team, because he had a word deal with louis spota. Word, word, word. No money, no help, no influential friends. If that cost him cunning trips in the past, today it has earned him the respect of all. For example, from Julio Cesar Chavez, who only fought him once, but received multiple supports from don Nacho when he wanted to cut weight. If even his most epic rivals worship him.

“When I was 14 years old, I wanted to be his fighter,” he confessed. manny pacquiao after suffering the brutal knockout of Márquez, Beristáin’s most global student. Not even the pain of the biggest defeat of his career prevented him from Pacman acknowledge his admiration for a legend. That is Don Ignacio Beristáin. 83 years and a force shielded against ignorance. 24 world champions and counting. The teacher still has a lot of lecture to teach.


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