BOXING

The trainer that made a champion: Don Chepo Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez

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Situated in a nondescript neighborhood of Guadalajara’s Antigua Penal neighborhood, Gimnasio Julián Magdaleno doesn’t look like much from the outside.

Inside at the end of a long hallway is an old boxing ring, and in one corner a small altar to the Virgen de Guadalupe with photos of Oscar “Chololo” Larios, the first champion trained by Don Chepo Reynoso decades ago.

At 70 years old, Don Chepo, doesn’t stop moving. His son Eddy Reynoso is Saúl “Canelo” Alvarez’s current trainer, but it was Don Chepo that put the Mexican champion on the path to greatness over two decades ago. When Canelo, accompanied by his brother Rigoberto, showed up as a 14-year-old to begin training, Don Chepo already had two champions in his fold, Lario and Javier “Chatito” Jáuregui.

Don Chepo doesn’t spend as much time with Canelo as he used to after a doctor’s recommendation to take things easy to focus on his high blood pressure. It wasn’t just doctors who told him to relax. Canelo and Eddy Reynoso both advised the veteran trainer to spend more time with his grandchildren and avoid the hectic schedule that is required of training one of the elite boxers in the world.

Currently, Don Chepo works about four hours a day with his boxers, managing their sparring schedule and functioning more as an advisor.

Canelo credits Don Chepo and Eddy Reynoso for launching his career, resulting in multiple world championships in four weight classes.

“It was in that gym where I became a boxer. It was where I learned my first lessons,” said Canelo.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo

The gym opened in 2004 under the banner of “Fé, ilusión y decisión” and those three words are still recorded in faded paint on its walls. The name of the gym, Julián Magdaleno, is in honor of one of Don Chepo’s teachers and someone he credits with showing him all he knows about the sweet science.

Magdaleno, who died in 1988, trained multiple Mexican boxers and was in the corner of Alejandro “Cobrita” González when he beat Kevin Kelly to win the World Boxing Council’s featherweight title in 1995. He also helped in the early phases of training Larios, who continued his work with Don Chepo leading to a title belt.

While the walls of the gym have started to show signs of age, they hold up some key pieces in the history of Canelo, including the gloves he used in fights against Joseito López in 2012 and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013.

When Canelo arrived as a young man he wasn’t an unknown to Don Chepo and Eddy, who had seen him fight in the junior ranks. Even though Canelo had shown great promise from a young age, the Reynosos never gave him special treatment and instilled a work ethic that has carried the fighter to this day.

It was the first formal training Canelo ever received. His brother Rigoberto showed him how to throw punches from the porch of their home. From the start, Canelo was always a strong fighter who went forward. Rigoberto would take Canelo out to run and showed him how to be disciplined with his training. But it quickly became apparent to Rigoberto that Canelo needed something more. Enter the Reynosos.

“They completely remade me, I used to only want to throw punches, but they taught me how to move my hips, avoid punches and to counterpunch,” said Canelo. “It’s important to avoid getting hit. In boxing it is important to hit someone as much as you can and to avoid getting hit as much as you can.”

Don Chepo slowly started building a champion, imparting what he had learned from Magdaleno, and also Jesús “Cholaín” Rivero, who was Oscar de la Hoya’s trainer for many years.

Canelo was a quick study. He won the silver medal in the Junior Olympics and later won the Mexican national championship in his age group. His most difficult loss came against Mario Cázarez in the gold medal fight in the Junior Olympics. Canelo was in tears after suffering his first loss as an amateur.

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