Peter Welch, The Man Behind Florian And Lesnar’s Hands
(Heavy.com) Even though Mixed Martial Arts only recently became legalized in the state of Massachusetts in late 2009, the state has been producing talented MMA fighters for years. One Boston native who has witnessed and contributed to the growth of the sport in his state is boxing trainer Peter Welch. A former golden gloves champion with a 5-0 professional record, Welch runs the F-15 gym in Boston, is Kenny Florian’s longtime boxing trainer and has been helping Brock Lesnar become a more technical striker to prepare him for Shane Carwin at UFC 116.
“I met Kenny before the filming of The Ultimate Fighter,” says Welch, “We connected right before the show started filming. I trained him on the show, and when the show was over, I continued to work with him and help him with his boxing and mechanics.”
Boxing was a quintessential part of Welch’s upbringing, something he started at around the age of nine when his father took him to a local gym in South Boston. Coming from a predominantly Irish-American and Italian-American blue-collar hub, St. Patrick’s Day involved a parade, as well as a huge boxing event involving local boys.
“Whether you became a boxer or not, at some point in your life, your father brought you to that show and you participated in a boxing match. Anyone who has boxed from here usually got their start at the St. Patrick’s Day boxing show.”
Welch points to the tradition of older participants returning to volunteer as organizers and matchmakers, giving back to the community and contributing to the history and culture within the area. He also attributes his own success as a trainer as a direct product of this network.
Everyone knows that there are plenty of great fighters who never reach their full potential. It’s not always because of a lack of talent—the fight promotions, television networks, managers, agents, media and an entire series of intangibles can play deciding factors in how a prospect’s career can unfold.
“Fighting is the easy part,” explains Welch of the extreme difficulty in getting through the politics of boxing to make headway with his career.
With this in mind, even though he was undefeated as a professional, Peter abandoned that road and became a trainer.
Working with all types and levels of fighters since 1993, Peter gives credit where it’s due—to the athletes he works with. He maintains that not only is Kenny Florian easy to work with, but that Florian’s ability makes Welch look good.
“It’s not the trainer that makes the fighter,” insists Welch. “It’s the fighter that makes the trainer.”
Not only has Welch had success working with top level athletes, but his knowledge of boxing helped him snag a role in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 blockbuster The Departed.
Describing the casting interview at an upscale five-star Boston hotel, “They said ‘You’re going to meet one of the directors.’ I never thought that it was going to be Scorsese.”
“I walk into the room and there he is—larger than life. The biggest thing that stood out about him was his glasses. He was sitting there in his chair, we started talking about the fight game and we hit it off.”
He was flown into New York City for his scene as a prisoner, shot at a real Queens jail, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Speaking to the star, Leonardo told Welch that he was a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, demonstrating the growing popularity of the sport.
Now with UFC 118 coming to Boston on August 28, Peter believes that the city is on the verge of a changing of the guard from boxing to MMA as the premier combat sport.
“I see the evolution when it comes to fighting sports. There’s no activity in Boston when it comes to boxing. MMA has just completely taken over.”
Drawing on his own tutelage under different coaches as a youth, Welch was always shown different techniques employed with different styles. He never got a sense of what the exact truth was, but eventually he reached a conclusion of his own to explain the way things work.
“The truth was to adapt, and to have the ability to change with the situation.”
Welch has done exactly that and found a new niche with MMA to help fighters make the transition to sharper punching educated with his knowledge of the sweet science. He’s directly benefited from the boom in MMA— he’s also going to move from a 2,000 square foot gym to an 8,000 square foot facility this fall
Now that Peter is helping Brock Lesnar out by flying out to his camp for several days at a time to work on his boxing, the question now remains—with parity in wrestling between the two fighters, and striking perhaps being the decisive factor, just how much can Brock Lesnar absorb and implement before his match against dangerous knockout artist Shane Carwin?
“Let’s just say that technically, he’s going to be a different fighter on July 3rd.”
Posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 in Updates.
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