TheBoxingBar: How did you find boxing?
Joel Salas: I found boxing when I was 7 years old. My father started training my older brother, and that’s when I found out my father boxed and I wanted to be like him.
TBB: Who was your favorite fighter(s) that were a big influence on you at that time?
JS: My father was my big influence because in the majority of his fights he knocked everyone out. My father was the one who introduced me to other great fighters whose skills I borrowed. For example, "Mantequilla" Napoles and Salvador Sanchez.
TBB: I remember the first time we met, you had a story about Salvador Sanchez. Remind me what that story was …
JS: I remembered the great conditioning he had, and how skillful he was in the ring dodging hits and countering all his opponents. My father knew his trainer and nutritionist, and that’s where my father taught me how to lose weight and not suffer like fighters these days do to make weight.
TBB: During your time in boxing there were so many fighters that were fighting out of Oxnard like Fernando Vargas, Robert Garcia, Rolando Reyes, Jose Aguiniga, Carlos Madrigal, ect.. Those guys all fought out of La Colonia Boxing Club. You’ve told me that you didn’t train there. Why didn’t you train there in town?
JS: I actually trained with them here and there, but when I started boxing we trained at my dads house. I would just go spar there 3 times a week just to have sparring. Majority of time I would go train in Van Nuys at Goossen's Gym to get more sparring from a diversity of other fighters and get different fighting experiences. As I got older, it came to a time where I would just go to L.A. to spar.
TBB: Your nickname was “El Platanito”. How did you get that name?
JS: I got that name because my dad's name was Platano (Spanish for banana) since I was his son they called me Platanito (little banana).
TBB: I moved to Northern California about six years ago. I live about twenty minutes away from a city called Oroville where you fought a few times. You actually had your last fight there. Just out of curiosity, what do you remember about fighting in this area back then?
JS: Well back then it was different. There wasn’t that many people. I’m not sure if there are much more now, but I liked the area. It was very quiet and calm, just hot. But I guess you can expect it being hot since I'm a Southern California kid who lives by the beach.
TBB: I believe in at least one of those fights that you had here was televised. What was it like for you representing the city of Oxnard on TV?
JS: I loved representing Oxnard on TV and I wanted help put Oxnard on the map as well. I actually got a lot of television time after my first four fights because the main events kept finishing fast so my fights would get televised.
TBB: Your last three fights were against then-undefeated fighters David Estrada, Freddie Hernandez, and Muhammadqodir Abdullaev who each later on had pretty good careers and fought top opposition. You stopped fighting after fifteen pro fights. What made you leave the sport?
JS: I believe God has different plans from the ones we have which made me turn eyes away from boxing. One time after I sparred someone and I got off the ring they told me, "you can be a good fighter but if you don’t you don’t know the right people you’re not going anywhere."
TBB: Do you have any regrets about your boxing career?
JS: I don’t have any regrets. I actually enjoyed my time in boxing. The only regret I have is choosing boxing over school because I would be in a different position with full ride scholarships I had earned running country. As I stated, God had different plans for me.
TBB: In your opinion, what was your biggest accomplishment in the sport?
JS: My biggest accomplishment in this sport was to be ranked #2 in the entire USA and make my father proud of me.
TBB: What did you gain in life from your experiences as a boxer?
JS: What I gained was how to appreciate the life we have here in the USA compared to third world countries, and not complain about things because it could be worse. I also gained discipline, and I watch my surroundings because you never know what could happen.
TBB: What do you think of the sport of boxing today?
JS: Boxing today is not what is used to be back then. I'm not being a hater nor am I being negative. I’m just stating what I’ve seen in fights. Competition has gone downhill and fighters have gotten lazy. Boxing has too many boxing belts and it has begun to be a business to make money. I think they should cancel all the other belts or make one belt called the peoples belt where it doesn’t matter if you’re the champ, you have to fight everyone in your weight class. No going around them or picking who you want to fight. That’s where we will see a real pound-for-pound fighter. I remember one time, my father and I were at one of my fights and my father was speaking to Ignacio Beristain who my dad was good friends with. They were talking about how there was too many belts. Even a belt of his barrio.
TBB: Today people call Oxnard, Boxnard, because of all the boxers that have come out of there. You were one of those. Personally, how does that make you feel?
JS: That’s pretty cool because Oxnard is known for boxers now, and we’re on the map!
TBB: What is your all-time favorite cartoon?
JS: I had a lot of them but I liked Garfield and The Simpsons a lot.
TBB: What is your all-time favorite movie?
JS: I liked funny movies like Police Academy and Spaceballs.
TBB: Who is your favorite music artist?
JS: I really don’t listen to music anymore, but when I did I listened to a lot of gangster rap. Tupac, Biggie, E-40, Snoop, Knocturnal, Xzibit a lot. That music pumped me up. I listen to different music.
TBB: Your favorite food?
JS: Thai food and Vietnamese food.
TBB: Favorite super hero?
JS: Man of steel
TBB: Favorite sitcom?
JS: Married with Children
TBB: Favorite comedian?
JS: Adam Sandler
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