Name: Luis Sarria
Birthplace: Cumanayagua, Cuba
Died: 1991-11-19 (Age:80)
Hometown: Cumanayagua, Cuba
Boxing Record: click
Luis Sarria is best known in boxing as Muhammad Ali's personal physical conditioner, masseur and cornerman for all of Ali's pro career. Besides his association with Ali, Sarria was a welterweight with a claimed 19-12-1 pro record. The fighters he trained included world champion Luis Manuel Rodriguez, world rated heavyweight Julio Mederos, middleweight contender Kid Tunero, lightweight contender Douglas Valliant and dozens of main event fighters. He also coached Cuban amateur teams at the Central American & Caribbean Games.
Sarria died November 19, 1991, in Miami. Sarria was described by longtime friend Ferdie Pacheco as “a priest devoted to the religion of boxing.”
He was an employee of Angelo Dundee and helped train Muhammad Ali. Dundee credited Sarria as a crucial motivating force behind the success of such figters as Ali, Jimmy Ellis and Luis Manuel Rodriguez. Dundee stated, “People would call him a physical-fitness guy, but I thought was degrading. He knew how to get guys up; he was my guide with Muhammad, and he’ll go down in history as one of the greats.”
Pacheco said Sarria was completely devoted to the fighters he trained. For a month in 1963, when accompanying Rodriguez to Los Angeles for a title fight, Sarria cooked every meal –breakfast, lunch an dinner - for Rodriguez. “His conditioning allowed for no mistakes,” Pacheco said. “Not even Ali could con him out of exercise.”
Dundee added: “Ali couldn’t pull anything on Sarria, because Sarria wouldn’t stand for it. In Muhammad’s later years, Sarria was the one that kept fat off his body.”
In a tribute to Sarria, Pacheco wrote: “There was great dignity to this silent man. He never spoke ill of anyone, remained aloof from gym gossips and feuds and ventured an opinion only when pressed. He was intensely loyal to his fighter, was subdued in victory, calm in defeat. He knew only the world of boxing, and he flowed down that deep river of pain, accepting it as the only he would ever know.”
Sarria was among the earliest waves of Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro’s seizure of power in 1959. With him came some of the greatest Cuban boxers” Ultiminio Sugar Ramos, Jose Mantequilla Napoles, Jose Legra and Rodriguez. Pacheco called the period in the years following Sarria and company’s arrival a “glorious time” at Miami Beach’s legendary Fifth Street Gym. “I never saw so much talent in one place in my life,” Pacheco said. “That’s where Ali learned so much.” He was totally and forever dedicated,” Pacheco said. Dundee: “He was the best trainer I ever saw.” Sources: Hank Kaplan Boxing Archives (Brooklyn College); Todd Hartman of The Miami Herald (11-25-1991).
He is a 2013 Inductee into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.