Ignacio Beristain ‘Nacho’: A Biography

Ignacio Beristain

DOB: July 31, 1939 Actopan, Veracruz, Mexico
Gym: Romanza Gym (Opened 1992, Closed 2020 due to CoVid19)
Location: Mexico City
Boxing Background: Amateur Boxer and Boxing Trainer.
Notable Fighters: Daniel Zaragoza, Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael Marquez, and Oscar De La Hoya!

Ignacio Beristain: Early Years

Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain fell in love with boxing as child. He began his career as an amateur in the Light Flyweight Division later turning professional. This proved a short career as he was forced to retire prematurely in 1959 due to an eye injury. ‘Hanging up his gloves’ as a fighter would actually prove a blessing for Beristain as he would go on to become in many people’s opinion the best trainer in Mexican history.

Early years Training Amateurs

Initially, Beristain would focus on training amateur boxers. Indeed, he trained amateur boxing teams at the 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games. Beristain was part of the coaching staff that saw Mexico win 4 Olympic medals in 1968 at the Olympics held in his home country – Mexico!  Agustín Zaragoza and Joaquín Rocha earned bronze medals and Ricardo Delgado and Antonio Roldán were crowned with winning golds. Beristain would then go on to lead the Mexican boxing teams in Munich 1972, Montreal 1976, and Moscow in 1980. The last of which (Moscow 1980), ‘Nacho’ prefers to forget, remembering only that his team of fighters were unfairly eliminated despite great performances.

Transition to Training Professionals

Beristáin’s transition to the pros rested largely on his star amateur pupil Daniel Zaragoza becoming a world champion but it was not the only reason. Nacho had become fed up with the corrupt inner circles of Mexican sports (a whole topic of its own) with support for Olympic athletes at the time very poor, and many ‘shady’ decisions undertaken by those in charge. Nacho later even stated though there is much more transparency and support nowadays – though not as much as he would like, he had ‘got tired of being a bureaucrat and being witness to all the dirty business handled by the government.’

Ignacio Beristain: A Professional Trainer

Nacho’s faith in Daniel Zaragoza was not unfounded. He would become his first professional world champion. A two-division title holder and future hall of famer in 2004 Daniel ‘the road warrior’ Zaragoza under Igancio would end his career with a record of 55 wins (28 by K/O), 8 loses and 3 draws. His championship successes came in 1985 for the WBC Bantamweight Title with a disqualification victory over Freddie Jackson. In 1988 he then moved up to win the WBC Super Bantamweight Title with a 10th round victory by TKO over future Hall of Famer Carlos Zarate. Zargoza successfully retained this championship five times. 

Nacho during his professional training career has been recognised for working with at least 25 world champions.

ignacio beristain boxing coach

Ignacio Beristain: Notable Boxers Trained

Amongst them were:

  • Ricardo López – Four time champion (Hall of fame member)
  • Juan Manuel Márquez – Four division champion (Hall of fame member)
  • Rafael Márquez – Two division champion
  • Daniel Zaragoza – Four time champion (Hall of fame member)
  • Humberto González – Four time champion (Hall of fame member)
  • Victor Rabanales – Bantamweight champion
  • Oscar De La Hoya – Six division champion
  • Jorge Arce – Four time champion
  • Guty Espadas – Flyweight champion
  • Guty Espadas, Jr. – Featherweight champion
  • Alfredo Angulo – Jr middleweight prospect
  • Enrique Sánchez – Bantamweight champion
  • Gilberto Román – Two time champion with 11 title defenses
  • Jhonny González – Two division champion
  • Melchor Cob Castro – Two time champion
  • Rodolfo López – Featherweight champion
  • Alejandro Barrera – Jr middleweight prospect
  • Abner Mares – Bantamweight champion
  • Vicente Escobedo – Former title challenger
  • Juan Carlos Salgado – Two time champion
  • Jorge Paez – Two time champion
  • Julio César Chávez Jr. – Middleweight champion
  • Rey Vargas – Super bantamweight champion

The records of the fighters noted are briefly stated and easily further researched so it’s best to focus on those Nacho was most renowned for and associated with. 

Nacho and the Marquez Brothers

Nacho is most famously remembered today as having been the ‘lifetime’ trainer of both of the extremely successful Marquez brothers. Indeed, for the entirety of the amateur and professional career of eldest brother Juan Manuel, and excepting a few final professional fights, the same can be said of younger brother Rafael. Beristain guided and trained both the Marquez brothers to victories in multiple world title fights, successful title defenses and championship reigns in multiple weight classes. Their records can be seen in the respective hyperlinks.

Another very notable fighter – Oscar de la Hoya.

Although Nacho was not the exclusive trainer of the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, he did train him during 2008. Given by this time Oscar was an eight time world champion in six different weight classes. It’s a testament to the skill of Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain that he was employed in such a capacity. Indeed, he was even in the corner in collaboration with one Angelo Dundee during De La Hoya’s fight with Manny Pacquiao on the 6th December 2008. ABS-CBN citing Ignacio as the ‘main man in charge’ with Dundee just an advisor!

Oscar De La Hoya would himself confirm this stating, “Nacho is the head trainer, he’s the head honcho and he’s in charge. He is the man. Why not bring in the legendary trainers of our time?”

Ultimately, the two legendary trainers were forced to endure defeat with an aging De La Hoya soundly beaten and forced to retire in the 9th round by a Pacquiao in his prime. Oscar’s phenomenal boxing records and achievements are nevertheless viewable here: Oscar De La Hoya 

Nacho Style!

Nacho earned a reputation for developing fighters with a high boxing technical prowess. Equally, he was a trainer that heavily advocated combination punching that ended with an uppercut. 

Note it is worth mentioning here that although Ignacio was known as a predominantly Mexican trainer, Japanese, Argentine, Russian, and English fighters arrived from all over the world in order to study under the guidance of the person considered Mexico’s finest coach.

Nacho’s style and technique can be summed up in his own words, “All the people tell me that most of my fighters box a similar way, some even make fun of me because my fighters always come out with a very good guard. When people see someone with a guard like the one I teach, they know that they are my fighter. When they see them boxing they convince themselves that they are my fighters.” 

For Nacho, work ethic was the key and nobody deserved more respect than the fighters themselves.

“I like my job, I develop it well, at 8:00 am I am here, I look like my helpers’ assistant, because they arrive later and others arrive when I am finishing,” 

Nacho’s View on his best pupils.

A very fun insight into Nacho occurred when Mauricio Sulaimán, the President of the WBC, asked him about his fighters.

Nacho’s answers on the questions were:

Most disciplined: Daniel Zaragoza
Best Technique: Gilberto Román and Juan Manuel Márquez
Greatest Courage: Daniel Zaragoza and Juan Manuel Márquez
Fastest: Juan Manuel Márquez
The most undisciplined: Víctor Rabanales
The Friendliest: Ricardo López
Strongest puncher: Rafael Márquez

Continuing in the same vain, WBC President Sulaiman asked Nacho to put together from all world fighters past and present calibration for his ideal boxer. His answers were interesting.

For Power: Roberto Durán
For Chin: Daniel Zaragoza
For Jab: Juan Manuel Márquez / Gilberto Román
For Style: Muhammad Ali
For Bravery: Daniel Zaragoza

Ignacio Beristain: Living Legend

Accolades

  • In 2006, Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain became a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame as a trainer.
  • In 2011, Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.