Jerry Belmontes Ready for Victory with his Father Sal in his Corner


Undefeated junior lightweight Jerry Belmontes (17-0) will be fighting his 3rd fight of the year this Saturday against Philadelphia’s Eric Hunter live on NBC Sports Network from McGonigle Hall at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The fight will be the televised co-main event on a Main Events promoted card, while the main event will feature a heavyweight clash between the rising Bryant Jennings and Bowie Topou.

Belmontes was scheduled to face the most recognizable name in his career, Teon Kennedy, before Kennedy sustained an ankle injury only weeks before the meeting. However, this fight with Hunter will be his biggest opportunity to date against his best opponent to date.

As far as replacement fighters go, Hunter is a dangerous one. He possesses speed and precision counter-punching, although those are a couple strong suits in the Belmontes arsenal as well. Hunter will be coming up in weight from 126lbs to the junior lightweight limit of 130lbs, giving Belmontes the benefit of being the bigger man come fight night.

Belmontes told “[Hunter] is a threat, but I’m going to have advantages because I’m bigger, taller, and I’ve got more power.”

Belmontes has had a unique training camp for a few reasons. First, he utilized a strength and conditioning coach for the first time in a camp. He worked with Coach Hickel Woolery and developed a new found sense of power. Belmontes said it has been a noticeable difference.

“Training was good, probably the best sparring I’ve had in a while. I’m in shape, strength and conditioning came along. I stopped two weeks ago, I started getting big. The sparring was different because every time I landed I dropped my sparring partners. I know the power is there, and the speed is still there as well.”

The other difference in camp was more of a familiar one. Belmontes returned to the corner of his Father and longtime trainer Sal Belmontes.  Sal had trained his son since he began boxing at age 9, but Jerry felt the need for a change earlier this year and linked up with Derrick James — trainer of Olympian Errol Spence — who trained Jerry for his two fights in 2012. After Belmontes last fight against Joselito Collado, he split with James on good terms and decided to go back to his father.

“The Corpus Christi Kid” said that it was like the old days, but better and that the fighter-trainer relationship with his father has developed into a more matured and mutually respected one.

“I honestly felt like it was better, back in the days everything was just his way and now it’s his way and my way. We’re combining our strategy together on how to beat the guy,” Belmontes said.

The relationship between father and son is special, but in boxing it can get complicated; perhaps Jerry needed to see what was out there in order to fully respect what he gets out of the time with his father, and maybe Jerry needed to go on his own to show his father that he is no longer the child from the amateurs and has developed into a man capable of great things. Whatever has happened, nothing has affected the father/son bond and it appears to be stronger than ever.

“[My father’s] always there, I consider him one of my best friends. That is why whenever I wasn’t in training camp with him he was still there with me. I needed a second opinion from him no matter what. We both laugh in training camp and make fun of things.”

This duo works on a much different molecular level and the bond is bounded by characteristics far too challenging to explain, I’ll try anyway.

Jerry’s father Sal is actually deaf; the trainer was born with a bone disease that caused his hearing deficiency, by age 19 Sal was completely deaf. Sal was a professional boxer that accumulated a 7-2 record, earning 7 knockouts in that span all the while being hearing impaired.

Obviously Sal has not let his hearing deficiency affect him as a fighter, trainer, and especially father who developed a quality relationship with his sons. He trained his older son when he fought and currently trains Jerry’s youngest brother who is still an amateur, but figures to make his pro debut next year most likely on the undercard of one of Jerry’s fights in Corpus Christi.

I’m sure you could think of many obstacles that would arise having a trainer who is hearing impaired, but the communication between Jerry and Sal is probably more sufficient than anyone could figure. Belmontes says that he and his father have developed a type of communication that extends far beyond the subtle manner of audible speech.

“Our communication works way different than anybody else’s, he doesn’t have to say anything and I already know the things he wants me to do just by slight hand [gestures]. If I just look at my dad I can see it in him what he wants from me and just a few [gestures] shows me what I need to do,” Belmontes said.

While they do sign a bit, for the most part Jerry and his father communicate just as normal as anyone else and Jerry doesn’t really make any adjustments which probably comes with time because after all Sal has been deaf since before his first born son.

“He reads lips very well, I talk normal to him and he responds normal to me. I understand everything he tells me and he understands everything I say, it’s just great communication between us.”

It’s hard for me to believe that some things aren’t issues, but Jerry says that he and his father have developed the kind of repartee that is able to overcome any dilemma. Still, I was curious how he is able to get directions to Jerry in the midst of a round.

“He keeps quiet until I get to my minute rest and then he tells me everything he sees.”

That seems simple enough and after all who am I to question the capabilities of others and the dynamics of a relationship far beyond my comprehension. They say that those who have hearing and seeing deficiencies usually develop stronger senses to compensate, perhaps that kind of idealism extends to the relationships those individuals would encounter. If that is the case then I’d like to believe that the nature of the Father/Son relationship is capable of withstanding the scrutiny of God’s uncomprehending challenges.

When I was younger I fancied the kind of heroes with masks, capes and super powers, but as I got older I realized the term hero was such a broad term. Heroes in real life are the common men and women that get up every day and contribute to a household. In no way would I suggest that just being hearing impaired makes someone a hero, but it’s what that person does despite that deficiency that makes them a hero and Sal is a hero because he doesn’t allow his disability to limit his achievements.

As far as the trainer-fighter relationship goes, I believe that the communication level between Jerry and his father is enhanced in spite of the lack of verbal dialogue. Speaking isn’t nearly as important as the message that comes from it. Everyone is articulate to a certain extent, but if you can’t find the words to clearly express your message then it gets lost in the translation. If however, you forgo the dialect and find a more profound manner of conversing then you bypass any unnecessary banter in exchange for a direct form of discussion.

That is the level that Jerry and Sal have reached, in a sense the disability could be an advantage over those fighter-trainer relationships that don’t completely recognize each other’s discourse. The other thing it does is break down the gaps created by age, slang, and environment. Sal Belmontes doesn’t have to watch MTV to understand the things Jerry may say on a given day and their language is more universal.

Success will be dictated by many in regards to Jerry’s performance on Saturday and whether he wins or loses. However, this father-son relationship extends past boxing and into the stratosphere of life. The success of this father-son relationship is determined by the closeness of Jerry and Sal. It is dictated by the kind of man Sal raised and it is exemplified by the kind of father that Jerry is for his 5 year old boy. Jerry’s success is inevitable, and even though he is a prospect in boxing he is a champion human being capable of giving his own son all the love and support shown by his father Sal.

So don’t feel sorry for the people who can’t hear the music, feel sorry for the people who are incapable of listening to the message.