“Every time I fight, I win.”
Such was the philosophy and the utter belief of my unsung hero this month, that you see it etched in his expression, saw it dance in the ring and after he lost, light up with a smile as he left the arena. Not that there were many “arenas”. Mind you that simply didn’t phase him.
I watched Curtis Gargano, 0-51-1, fight twice and can testify to the fact that his twitter handle, “The Entertainer”, is more than apt. Between an Ali shuffle or two and the windy up hand gestures, the calls to the crowd and the tongue pulled out he knew how to add to your evening.
He was pure gallus as we say in the West Coast of Scotland and if you watched him then we could fit a photographic description of how to make a dictionary definition of that Scots term.
Gargano has now retired and been retired for a while but the reason why I see him as an unsung hero is because he has gone on to train the heart and blood of the game – fighters who will be in the away corner and give those in the home corner a test.
Earlier this year, Gargano, along with a few others, was concerned that being a journeyman from England was being lost. In an interview in February 2019 for BBTV he can be seen bemoaning the noble art as it seemed more likely to import the away fighter than invest in a home grown away fighter.
You see, being a journey man, is to Gargano what it should be; an art.
Gargano, himself, was of great stock. His father fought plenty of times – 122 in total, and though his father was known as someone who was less dedicated than the best, he was much more reliable than most. Des Gargano was a legend and his son should wear that mantle with equal pride. His father even faced a prince – Naseem Hamed – and his son was in the crowd that night.
When you read anything about Des Gargano, that comes up, be it in interviews, references in the passing or just simply a lazy journalist way of pretending he know something about his dad. It might not belittle the other 121 fights that Des Gargano had but it makes for easier reading. It dies both father and son a disservice.
Des Gargano also fought Spencer Oliver on his debut, Paul Ingle in his 8th fight, Croy’s own Pat Clinton and won on 33 occasions. It makes his CV look a little better than he once fought a big name, once…
His father’s bravery often saw Des fighting with injuries and came after days spent working on building sites to ensure that food was on the family’s plates. For Des Gargano, like many journeymen then and now, not getting fights would mean money not coming into the house; it’s a vocation, not a career but also a job that pays a wage.
The son, Curtis has that bravery in bucket loads but retired after being knocked out in the 2nd round of his fight with Pawel August in June 2018. In an interview afterwards he spoke of the desire having left him and perhaps it was due to an invisible injury that was in his head and heart rather than in his ribs and hands.
Curtis’s record includes a fight with Anthony Yarde which might be HIS Prince moment but his love affair with the square circle is absolute. What is impressive is that is has now seen him take on the concerns he had about journeymen to train those who look for a career rather than a fortune. It’s a rare step that you see someone prepared to take up the fight that many on a sofa will complain about and do nothing but moan. Here Gargano is rare. He knows he dislikes something and therefore has a plan to try and do something about it.
His trainer’s hat will be seen round many of the smaller halls and if you want a glimpse of who Curtis Gargano truly is, you might get then tune into the YouTube documentary “Defeated” where you get a real sense of who this man is. The link is here: –
In the documentary what is really striking is when he talks of his father and visits his grave. It is a touching scene and brings these two kindred spirits together for one more time. Curtis laughs, appears a little awkward, given it is a very emotional moment but admits that as a child he thought his father was a loser and didn’t understand why he did what he did; until he did it himself.
And for that reason alone, I reckon that Curtis Gargano and his enlightened ways of facing the errors of others, is our unsung hero of the month.