Ever since Hilary Swank gave Hector Roca a shout-out at the Golden Globes for teaching her how to box in Million Dollar Baby, the legendary 65-year-old trainer’s usual rope-banging, Spanish-expletive-hurling marches around Gleason’s Gym in Dumbo have become media events. Jada Yuan caught up with the Cosby-like Panamanian in his office, while a steady stream of kids sauntered in to change their shorts, despite a sign reading DO NOT USE MY OFFICE AS A DRESSING ROOM.
Besides Hilary, you’ve trained Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, and a pre-Selena Jennifer Lopez. Has J.Lo talked to you since she hit it big?
Never. Too famous.
Who’s the toughest star you’ve worked with?
Michelle Rodriguez [for Girlfight]. When she’s sparring and she get hit, she say, “You fuck! You hit me! You want it real or what?!”
You were an Olympian in cycling in Panama. How’d you get into boxing anyway?
My father, my brother, they box. I fight myself, but I’m a very bad fighter.
If you could pick anybody in the world to knock out, who would it be?
Bush. Because he send my kid three times already to Iraq.
Are you going to the Oscars?
When the movie come out, Hilary say, “Buy your tuxedo.” She’s like my daughter, you know. She call me two, three times a week. Busy she be, she come here and bring me a present: ivory dominoes. You know how expensive this is? I can’t play them outside. I worry someone take them.
Who would win in a fight, Hilary or her husband, Chad Lowe?
Chad. This is a strong man.
Hilary vs. Clint Eastwood?
Clint’s big. He’s also 75.
But in very good shape.
Could she take on her fellow Best Actress nominees?
Oh, Hilary can fight. Annette Bening seems pretty fierce.
You can be a fierce woman, but technique takes time. Since the Golden Globes, how many people have called saying, “Give me Hector Roca”?
Like, ten times more than before. But you know, that’s fantasy. When the movie’s gone, everybody gone again.