Finding Motivation in All the Right Places: Emmanuel “Renegade” Robles


Photograph Credit: Paul Gallegos

Our one-on-one interview with undefeated light welterweight, Emmanuel “Renegade” Robles, as he prepares for his main event bout October 24 at Bobby D Presents.

For the majority of sports fans around the world, the outcome of a game, match, or bout has a beginning, middle, and end. When the clock ticks zero and the seats empty, nearly everyone who was at the event goes home to another hobby, possibly a family, and most likely a career that requires focus on a daily basis. In most cases, that game or match they just witnessed becomes a thing of the past…an old ticket stub placed in a drawer.

But what about the individuals who are defined by the sport they play? The individuals that literally “take their work home with them,” and in some cases, use sports as a vehicle to overcoming insurmountable circumstances.

Emmanuel “Renegade” Robles (11-0-1, 3KO’s), a local boxer and native San Diegan, needed something good to happen nearly seven years ago when he found himself in trouble with the law, hoping that someone would show him a clear path to a better life. Spending time in juvenile detention as a 13-year old kid, and causing trouble with friends became the norm. Then one day, a small gift from his mother, a person who he and his two brothers loved dearly, changed the course of his life forever.

“I don’t know where I would be in life without boxing. Boxing saved me. It showed me discipline and built my character,” Robles tell me. It was his mother who gave him a gym membership when things looked bleak. It was boxing that piqued his interest in the sweet science and created an outlet for his anger.

“I think naturally I was an angry person when I was younger. But boxing helped me control that anger,” the native San Diegan tells me. As someone who was always in a street fight, battling kids bigger than him, and at times more than one at the same time, Robles knew that using boxing as a vehicle to control his energy could be the ticket to a better life. “Boxing gave me control,” Robles says confidently.


After finding something he truly enjoyed, which doubled as a release for his anger, Robles jumped headfirst into a sport that typically requires years of experience, elite-level training, and a natural ability that one can only be born with. For Robles, the latter was inherent in his blood. It was the experience in the ring and coaching that would prove integral in the process of becoming a successful fighter.

Robles, a proud San Diegan, shows his loyalty to the town he loves every day when he enters Old School Boxing and sees his mentor, trainer and friend, Ernest Johnson.

“Coach [Johnson] picked me up while I was training with someone else. He saw me and he saw my talent. So he took me under his wing. Ever since I have been with Coach and his son, E.J., I have been winning,” says Robles.

When speaking with Robles, it is easy to detect the admiration he has for Coach Johnson. To assume that Robles considers him a part of his family would be an easy and fair assumption. In many ways, despite years apart in age, Robles and Johnson came from similar backgrounds, dealt with similar pains and overcame similar challenges that make their bond nothing less than concrete.

“It’s funny because Coach [Johnson] and I always joke around about how we grew up. He had it rough like me so we always can relate about times we were in fights with guys who were bigger than us, or the times when it was two-on-one and we came out of all beat up,” Robles tells me.

Robles continues, “He’s not only been a great coach but a great friend and he is truly a mentor inside and outside of the ring. I am so lucky to have him. I owe a lot to him.”

Coach. Mentor. Friend. Family. For Robles, his family starts at home, with his three children and extends to the gym where he sees Coach Johnson five to six days a week. But when the gloves come off, Robles heads home to see his three children, enjoying every possible moment he has with them, and ultimately setting good examples they can follow throughout their lives.

“I used to box just because I simply wanted to be the best. And I still do, but at the same time I want to give my kids the best future they can have. And boxing helps me do that,” Robles explains. He adds, “I want them to know that their dad is a winner. And that I am doing this for them, too.”

So how does the family man-boxer handle the load on a daily basis? “Will. Shear will. Its family, boxing and my job, which carriers the first two. It takes discipline, but I am perfectly fine with that. I want my kids to grow up well,” Robles tells me.


It is obvious that family is the backbone of Robles’s life, and that his family extends from his home to the gym, and vice versa. This is his recipe for success that has led Robles to 11 wins and a contract with San Diego boxing promoter Bobby D Presents.

“It’s been great fighting under Bobby D Presents. They have been keeping me busy and given me a chance to fight here in San Diego. I couldn’t ask for more. I feel blessed,” Robles explains.

Robles, is coming off two victories in 2014, which included split decision victories over Yordenis Ugas (15-1) in February for the Interim WBC Latino Light Welterweight title and Jonathan Chicas (13-1) in San Francisco at the Longshoreman’s Hall in July. A third victory to cap off the calendar year, coupled with an entertaining show for his hometown fans, would be a dream for Robles and certainly build his confidence going into 2015.

“It is awesome to fight in my hometown. When I was growing up I was one of those unfortunate kids who got in trouble and got locked up. And now, being one of the guys who is following my dream, it feels good to give encouragement to others around this city and show them that they can make it no matter what life throws at you,” says Robles.

Not only is Robles fighting in front of his hometown fans, but he is also one half of a main event that sits atop an exciting card of fights under the Bobby D Presents banner. Again, as expected, the added pressure of being the headliner in front of his hometown adds a healthy pressure to the evening.

“It feels amazing to be on the main event, but also it is humbling because I know I still need to work hard, keep my work ethic up and be consistent every day. Fighting at home in the main event does bring some pressure. But I welcome it. I do well under pressure,” says Robles.

On October 24, 2014, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley, Emmanuel “Renegade” Robles will step into the ring in the main event of Bobby D Presents “San Diego Fights” against Carlos “El Guererro” Valenzuela (6-1, 3KO’s) in an eight-round battle. The bout looks to be Robles’s toughest test to date as he will be squaring off against a battle-tested veteran who is looking to spoil Robles’s chance at entertaining his hometown San Diego fans in the main event.

But don’t be mistaken, Robles is not looking one day beyond October 24. With a tough combatant in front of him, Robles knows that the task at hand is most important.

“I know he [Carlos Valenzuela] has a solid record and that he lost his last fight. He is 6-1 and we don’t take chances with anyone. We make sure that we are 110% prepared for whatever he brings,” Robles explains. He adds, “I am ready for 8 rounds if we need too. And I am ready for anything he brings to the table.”

If someone were to ask me, “what is the formula for success?,” the first that would come to mind is this: Opportunity + Preparation + Execution = Success. This could be true for anything, from boxing to trading stocks. As someone who understands what it means to go through a lifetime of adversity and be given an opportunity, Robles knows that working hard in the gym and carrying out the game plan in the ring is the only way he can achieve his dreams as a professional fighter.

“I am very grateful and happy that I get an opportunity to show my strength and my will inside the ring. A lot of the stuff in the past that has happened to me has been unfortunate, but it has made me stronger and also made me realize that you have to fight through some of the worst things to get to the better days,” Robles says as our interview comes to an end.

On October 24, at Bobby D Presents, Emmanuel “Renegade” Robles enters the ring with many things in mind. But it is the things right now, in the moment, that motivates him to be the best fighter, father and person he can be. A challenge he happily accepts.


The Crowne Plaza Hotel is located at 2270 Hotel Circle North, San Diego. “San Diego Fights” is presented by Bobby D. Presents with Mossy Automotive Group, Pepsi, Everlast, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, DGS Construction and Car Czar. Doors open at 6:30pm with the first punch thrown at 7:30pm. For more info, please dial (619) 420-8866 or visit

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