Boxing is a world of controversies and extremes. For example, in terms of salaries, the best and most famous boxers, like Floyd Mayweather or Mike Tyson, can expect to make millions for a fight. But, like it is in other sports, those at the bottom or those with less fame can barely scrape by. Here’s a look at how one former champion is now cutting hair for a living.
A look at Mario Rodriguez’s career
Rodriguez, like many poor young kids do, started boxing at a young age. He was a small man, and he only fought in the lighter weight classes. In particular, he fought in the 108-pound light flyweight division and the 105-pound strawweight division. Overall, his boxing career wasn’t really remarkable, and he only fought in his home country of Mexico.
Regardless, he worked hard and kept training, and soon, in 2012, he built up a nice knockout streak. Later that year, he was given a title shot against Nkosinathi Joyi, who was the strawweight champion at the time. Rodriguez knocked Joyi out in the seventh round and became a world champion.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to celebrate, since, as ESPN reported, he was beaten by Katsunari Takayama in his next fight. Rodriguez would continue fighting, but his career never went anywhere after that. In 2019, his trainer was killed, and as a result, he retired from the sport. He had a record of 23 wins, 15 losses, and 5 draws by the time he retired.
Mario Rodriguez in retirement
Many athletes don’t have a retirement plan, but for boxers, it’s easier. Many boxers will become a trainer when they retire, and that’s exactly what Floyd Mayweather’s dad and uncles did. ESPN said that Rodriguez did the same thing, but it was more personal. As Rodriguez told ESPN, “I always said I’d be with my trainer until we both decided otherwise.”
After his trainer was killed, he became a trainer and started training people with the help of his trainer’s son, Agapito Diaz. He didn’t forget his roots either, and he’d train between 50 to 80 kids for free, according to ESPN.
The only requirement was that they had to bring their own hand wraps. On top of that, he’d also train pro boxers as well as amateur ones, though they’re mostly known in Mexico.
But then of course, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic swept the world, and that forced him to shut the gym down for the time being. He isn’t a rich man, and he had bills to pay, and that’s why, according to ESPN, he became a barber for the time being. For about $2 a cut, Rodriguez will cut the hair of anyone who wants it. ESPN said that he’s already had several customers, too.
Why lightweights don’t earn as much money
The reason why this ultimately happened is simple. Boxers in the lighter weight classes just don’t get paid as much as the heavier boxers. This is the same story for other sports, such as the UFC. As Mario Rodriguez told ESPN, “I was world champion, but, you know, lightweights in boxing don’t earn much money.”
Lighter weight classes just aren’t as popular as heavier weight classes are, for whatever reason. In fact, even popular and dominant champions in Rodriguez’s weight class don’t get paid that much. ESPN reported that Roman Gonzales, who has a record of 49-2, only got paid $200,000 for beating his opponent, Moisés Fuentes. Fuentes got $35,000 for losing.
Rodriguez was never as famous or as dominant as either of those men are, so his paychecks were definitely smaller. As a result, it’s not surprising that he had to turn to being a barber during these strange times.