Celebrated boxing trainer Freddie Roach is waiting for Filipino protégé Marvin Somodio to join his staff at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles but the 28-year-old former amateur fighter from Iloilo has twice been denied a US visa and is still working on a third application.
Somodio’s second denial came last week. He was advised by US Embassy staff to revise his application from a tourist to a working visa. Somodio is hurriedly preparing documents to apply for a P-1 visa which is issued to athletes or entertainers for temporary employment in the US. Freddie Roach wants Somodio in Manny Pacquiao’s camp as backup for strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza during preparations for the Tim Bradley fight in Las Vegas on June 9.
“What I like about Marvin is his attention to detail,” said Freddie Roach in a recent STAR interview. “He’s hard-working and he learns fast. I notice sometimes, Manny doesn’t listen to Alex when he’s told to hit the pool or the tracks. But when Marvin asks Manny to do it, he does it. I think Manny prefers his team to be Filipino. That’s why he has Buboy (Fernandez) and Nonoy (Neri) working closely with him. Marvin’s a good addition. I’ve taught him how to wrap and do mitts. Manny, of course, does his own wraps. Marvin doesn’t do Manny on the mitts yet. Obviously, Marvin is quicker (than me) on the mitts because he’s so much younger so I’m working on getting him more experience with the mitts.”
There was a slight confusion as to what type of visa Somodio should apply for. He applied twice for a tourist visa but was denied after admitting he would work with Roach in Pacquiao’s camp. Somodio plans to return to the Philippines with Pacquiao after the Bradley fight and has no intention of staying longer in the US.
Somodio, the sixth of nine children and one of five boys, was once in the ABAP pool of national boxers but never represented the country in an overseas competition. In 2006, he hit his stride as a simonpure, trouncing Bill Vicera for the gold medal in the pinweight (45 kilogram) division and gaining Best Boxer honors at the Olympic Festival in Lanao del Norte.
Somodio was invited by relatives to relocate to Baguio City for high school in 1996 but after a year, returned to Iloilo. He went back to Baguio in 1998 to continue his high school studies and eventually, got involved in boxing. Somodio went to school and boxed at the same time. In 2008, Somodio left the ABAP camp and started training Anson Tiu Co’s fighters at the Shape Up Gym in the Cooyesan Plaza Hotel in Baguio. He has two more years left before earning his civil engineering degree at the University of Baguio.
Somodio was introduced to Pacquiao and Roach in 2009 while the Filipino ring icon was in Baguio training for Miguel Cotto. He learned plyometrics from Raul Banzon at the Adidas Power Camp, expanded his knowledge in strength and conditioning in a four-day seminar conducted by US Boxing high performance director Patrick Borkowski in Baguio two years ago and gained a wealth of experience as Ariza’s assistant in Pacquiao’s camps in Baguio.
“Ever since I worked with Manny in 2009, I haven’t seen a decline in his ability or speed,” said Somodio in Pilipino. “His body is like hardwood. He’s showing the same explosiveness, the same movement, like age is not affecting him. Many times in the gym, it’s Freddie who stops him from extending his workout hours. His stamina is unbelievable. Right now, I think he’s in his prime. Our conditioning program is on a week-to-week basis but we break down what he does every day. We’re building him up to peak on the night of the fight. He’ll be in the best shape of his life against Bradley.”