Robert Guy won a Golden Gloves national championship in 1985, but his legacy was won by how he achieved it with a trainer who loved unconditionally.
Quitting simply wasn’t in the DNA of Guy, a North Sider who had experienced only heartbreak and defeat in four previous state tournaments, including a controversial decision loss to Lupe Miranda of San Antonio the year before.
It was a loss that stung and a decision that many at the Will Rogers Coliseum, including Guy and his trainer, Al Traversie, believed went the wrong way.
We didn’t get angry or bitter or anything like that. We took that loss, and two months later in Colorado Springs in the Olympic Trials box-off, we beat the dude the same way and got the right decision.
Robert Guy on his loss by decision to Lupe Miranda in 1984
“I didn’t lose any perspective,” said Guy, 51, now a trainer and coach with Rio Boxing Club. “My trainer and I had already contemplated going pro, but we decided to stay amateur one more year. [Traversie] said, ‘Let’s win a national championship.’”
That they did.
Guy broke through at the state tournament in 1985, and in Little Rock later that year he was crowned national champion as a light welterweight.
Wednesday, teams from around the state reassemble in Fort Worth, as they have since 1936, for the Golden Gloves State Tournament at Will Rogers Memorial Center Watt Arena.
Champions of their respective divisions advance to the national tournament in May in Salt Lake City. Texas had two national champions last year, including Pablo Ramirez of Rio Grande Valley, who is returning to state.
Regional champions who will be competing from Fort Worth will be Xavier Rodriguez (108), Joel Ambriz (123), Cory Neal (132), Nathaniel Vincent (141), Rodolfo Rivas (152), Cruise Carter (165), Frederick Jordan (178), David Cordova (201) and Gregory Dismukes (201-plus).
Their scopes are all set on becoming the next Robert Guy, who instantly became a “square head” in boxing the moment he began going to the Overseas Motors Boxing Club in Haltom City with Traversie in 1976.
His bond with his coach was something out of a storybook.
Robert Guy won more than 200 amateur bouts. He was 11-4-4 as a professional.
Guy, who competed internationally on U.S. amateur teams after the nationals title and went on to a 11-4-4 record as a professional, lived with Traversie for more than eight years, beginning as a sophomore at Fort Worth North Side High School.
Traversie, who still lives in the same house and was the only trainer Guy ever knew, once said of his boxer: “Outside of the ring, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
As an amateur, Guy had more than 200 victories and 250 fights.
The boxer and coach, who stayed together until Guy’s last professional fight at the Houston Summit in 1992, remain close.
Where did you meet Al? I had moved with my mother and four brothers and sisters from the south side. He used to come to the apartments where we lived. He would pick up kids who boxed with him. I wanted to try boxing. I would go to the van when Al came by, but the older kids wouldn’t let me in. I was the new guy. After that fourth time they let me in the van. I went to the gym with them and after that [I was in]. He took me in, treated me and accepted me like a son.
So even at 13, you were resilient? At 13, my first year of boxing, I did not win one fight. We boxed every weekend. I lost a boxing match every weekend in 1976. I never, ever forget that. I didn’t get discouraged about anything. I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. I just stuck with it.
That’s very hard to do for a young person, no? It’s very hard to do. But that’s how [he and Traversie] bonded and stuck together. When you’re in this humble sport, you have to humble yourself. That’s where you start learning. Boxing is not easy at all. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on it.
The loss to Miranda in 1984 was hard to swallow. How did you handle it? We didn’t get angry or bitter or anything like that. We took that loss, and two months later in Colorado Springs in the Olympic Trials box-off, we beat the dude the same way and got the right decision.
What would you tell young guys today who jump at the first chance they get to go pro in the face of false hopes? I would not let them turn pro. I’ve seen a lot of guys go pro before they should. It’s not really the guys. You’ve got to blame their superior, their coach. You have to. You have someone who is supposed to look after you. It doesn’t matter what sport or level, you’ve got to have experience at it. I don’t like to see other people get hurt for no reason, but that’s what you’re doing to them. I don’t like it.
Texas State Golden Gloves
Wednesday-Saturday, Watt Arena