“Saigon” Skipper KelpBoxing Coach and Cornerman
# Pro boxing record of 24 wins and 4 losses with 18 wins by way of knock out.# 4 time National Amateur Boxing Champion.# Head Coach of the University of Las Vegas boxing teamBD: First off I wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. For those who don’t know, you are a former world class boxer and current boxing trainer/ instructor. Let us all know how you first got into boxing and martial arts.
SK: I’ve been into martial arts all my life. I started off doing Tae Kwon Do and Karate and when I was about 12, I wanted to compete in full contact karate (aka PKA.) I knew that if I were to compete I would have to work on my boxing. I went to a local gym in Colorado Springs to help my transition. When my boxing skills were good enough to where I felt confident I can compete, my father went out to set-up some fights for me in PKA, but they didn’t have PKA for kids my age at the time. So this put me on the direction of my boxing career. I started winning tournaments and gained notoriety as an amateur fighter ! which eventually led to my pro career.
BD: When was your first pro fight and what weight did you start at?
SK: I just turned 20, it was here in Vegas at Bally’s. I fought welterweight throughout my career. As an amateur I won national titles at 132 and 139 lbs. but when I turned pro, I fought at 147.
BD: You are currently the UNLV boxing head coach, not too many people know about college boxing, so give us more info about that.
SK: Collegiate boxing use to ne a NCAA sport about 30 yrs ago. Unfortunately there was a death which led to the end of boxing as a NCAA sport. Boxing fans and enthusiasts began forming boxing as a club sport. There are about 30 teams that compete. At the end of my pro career a friend of mine and myself decided to form a boxing team at UNLV. Our team has finished 2nd in nationals and have been one of the top teams every year.cont…
BD: Are you currently training any ! pro boxers?
SK: I had a stable of pro fighters but with everything going on I wanted to narrow the number of fighters down so I can give more attention to each person. Right now I’m training a heavyweight contender named Duncan Dokiwari. He is a 1996 Olympic medalist. I only want to train fighters who have a legitimate shot at being a champion. Right now I’m just being very selective in who I work with because the time in the day is so few.
BD: Speaking of training,there are a few trainers out there making big names for themselves like Freddie Roach,and Buddy Mcgirt,who in your opinion are the best?
SK: I think you hit the nail on the head with those 2 names. Fernando Vargas’s trainer Danny Smith,seems to be a very talented up and coming trainer. Winky Wright’s trainers obviously have done a great job. The Mayweathers,there’s quite a few good trainers out there today. And being a trainer there is a lot more to! it than that. You’re a friend,a teacher,psychiatrist,a mentor,everything. The really great trainers know how to adapt their personalities to each individual fighter.
BD: Did you enjoy fighting or now training more?
SK: I enjoyed fighting more. The thrill you get when competing in the ring is one of a kind. But there are some things that need to be fixed with boxing and the way they treat the fighters. I’d like to see fighters get paid better,they don’t even have a pension. There’s a small percentage of great fighters who blow up,get paid the big bucks,for most of the fighters it’s rough.
BD: Since you mentioned some of the negative side of boxing,and the same can go for mma,we all have seen too many bad decisions. How can we go about fixing this problem?SK: It all comes down to accountability. There needs to be a governing body that governs the judges. If a judge is inconsistent they need to be pointed out and there must be repercussions. Like don’t let them judge anymore.
BD: Who are some of the big names in MMA that you have worked with?
SK: Ricco Rodriguez,Chuck Liddell,BJ Penn,Tito Ortiz,Phil Baroni,Marvin Eastman,to name a few. I’m not exactly their trainer,I just work with them on their technique. I’m not going to teach a BJ Penn anything on the ground,I just stick to the boxing aspect of MMA.
BD: We fight fans like to fantasize about dream fights. If you were a promoter and had the chance to match up any boxers current or past,what would your dream fights be?
SK: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Sugar Ray Robinson,Julio Caesar Chavez vs Roberto Duran as light weights,Bernard Hopkins vs Marvin Hagler,and honestly I’d like to see Mike Tyson in his prime again! st Muhammad Ali in his prime. I can go on and on.
BD: What is your greatest accomplishment in the ring?SK: There was fight that brought me the most notoriety in my career,it’s when I fought Adrian Stone. He was the good young prospect who they were trying to set up a title fight for. Our fight was on TV,Tuesday Night Fights. His promoter was putting on the show,it wasn’t fixed by any means but it was expected for me to lose. It was his home show,he entered last,announced him last,everybody was hyping him up. He knocked me down in the first round. And it ended up being a 12 round war from start to finish. I knocked him down twice,and ended up winning a unanimous decision. After that fight I was considered my many to be a world class fighter. It was a candidate for fight of the year.
BD: Before we end the interview,anything you want to plug?
SK: Of course I want to plug Modern Martial Arts JSECT. Myself and John Lewis have our school here in Vegas. We have boxing,jiu-jitsu,submission wrestling,kickboxing,pretty much everything. We have the best facility,and are always expanding and improving. When you join us your treated like family,everyone gets along really well here.
BD: Once again thank you Skip for your time,it’s an honor to do my first interview with someone who has such high regard as yourself.