By Robert Garcia
I REALLY liked Cameron Dunkin. He was a great person to me. When I retired from boxing in 2001, I started getting some of the amateurs to train in Oxnard and my brother [Mikey] was one of them. I took my brother to the Junior Olympics in 2004 and that’s when I started working with Cameron, with my brother, with Victor Ortiz, with Brandon Rios and Leo Santa Cruz.
Steve Luevano was my first world champion and that was Cameron’s fighter. Cameron believed in me. Every time he had a new fighter, his first choice [to train them] was me. Not every fighter came to me because a lot of them had their different trainers, a lot of them are working with different people, they live somewhere else, but he always tried to send me all his fighters. I was so young [but] he believed in me and my talent. For that, I’m always gonna be grateful. He was a great person to me; he took care of all my fighters. We had four or five champions together, so we had a great 10 to 12 years of hard work together, and I’m always gonna have nothing but love for him.
If I’m not mistaken, he managed 35 world champions. I don’t know if there’s anyone else that’s had more. He used to do whatever it took for his fighters. I remember one story. Steve Luevano was making weight, we were at the weigh-in, and Cameron Dunkin started feeling sick because he always had high blood pressure. He always had his Coca-Cola with him and gum, but he didn’t have any of that with him and he started feeling sick. We had Steve Luevano’s Gatorade and drinks to drink after the weigh-in. So, we told Cameron, “Take these and it’ll make you feel better.” He passed out that day at the weigh-in because he didn’t want to take Steve Luevano’s drink because he said, “That’s for the champ and that champ’s gonna need it after the weigh-in”. Things like that are what he would do for his fighters.
He always fought with the promoters so hard to a point where most of the promoters didn’t want to work with him anymore. He was so aggressive when it came to his fighters being paid the most money out there.
Back in the 90s and early 2000s, everyone wanted to be with Cameron Dunkin. He was the manager of that era and made a lot of fighters millions and millions of dollars. He was the best. For me, I think he’s a Hall of Famer and will go down as one of the best managers of all-time.
I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Cameron Dunkin. I learned so much from him. We always stayed in touch. He was always giving me advice. I talked to him two months before he passed, and it was nothing but good stuff. I want to continue doing this for Cameron. I want to continue being the trainer that I am for Cameron because Cameron was the very first one to believe in me and he always believed in me.
A true story from two months ago. We had a fight with Giovani Santillan and Alexis Rocha in L.A. We all knew it was a very difficult fight. We were 6/1 underdogs and Cameron called me before the fight and said, “How’s your fighter, is he in good shape?” I said, “He’s in great shape Cameron but the fight’s tough.” And he told me, “Robert, you’re in the corner and that makes a big difference so I’m picking your fighter to win. I’m putting some money on him. Rocha might be very good but when it comes to the corner nobody’s better than you so I’m picking Santillan to win.” And he was right. Up until two months ago he still believed in me and that makes me feel so proud.