Justin Fortune is a legendary boxing coach from Perth, Australia. Originally a powerlifter and a chef, Justin came into boxing in his late teens. Today he’s one of the most sought-after trainers in the world, and his successful Fortune gym is right on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood. We spoke there.
Here’s our chat:
ARBOL: Has the landscape of professional boxing changed a lot in recent decades for most fighters, with the mega fights between superstars (Pacquiao, Mayweather, McGregor etc..) and the huge purses. Is a huge payday on every fighter's mind, more than in the past? If so, is it a negative, since most fighters will not make it to that level?
JF: Yes of course it has changed. The sport is always evolving. Sometimes for the better and sometimes well, not. When I fought Lennox Lewis, it was my 15th pro fight and I jumped at the opportunity. Guys back then were much stronger, tougher, and all around harder. Now fighters are more concerned about how much money they are going to make or about posting a photo of them looking hard on social media.
ARBOL: As far as gyms, do you feel that boxing has become more mainstream, now interesting to regular people simply looking for high cardio workouts? Is that a plus, for a gym owner?
JF: Boxing is a workout like no other. When we started back in 2008 - I’d say our clientele was 95% male and 5% female. Now we are 50/50. With our classes, gym layout, and female friendly cleanliness - for sure brings regular folks into the gym. Also helps that we are a husband/wife owned business...so things that I may not recognize as being important to clients the wifey does. We are a busy gym with over 400 clients and around 15 fighters.
ARBOL: Fortune Gym is a very laid-back place; Is that a bonus for celebrities (since it's in Hollywood) that want some privacy during their workout.
JF: Oh yea. We don't get star struck. Not going to name any names, but we have a lot of A- list celebrities. They like it here because everyone in here comes here to train, not to be seen. Our entrance is on the back side of Sunset, so we don't get any paparazzi thank god. We are not paparazzi friendly.
ARBOL: Do you enjoy getting your fighters ready (like with Manny) as much as the day to day in the gym with regular clients?
I love the gym day to day. But Fighting is my passion. That is my job. Training camp with Pacquiao is the time I enjoy myself the most. All of us are mates and have been since 2002. He is a freak athlete and listens and responds to the instructions you give him. I believe that any of my fighter should give back what I give them. I put all my energy into training camp and Pacquiao equally matches that back. There will never be another Manny Pacquiao.
ARBOL: From what I understand, your training has a conditioning philosophy of shocking the body, to achieve maximum benefits; Is that something regular non -professional boxing enthusiasts should follow as well, and is that something the body can tolerate into middle age, or is that too demanding after a certain period in life?
JF: Yes, you can always tolerate your body no matter your age. If you don't shock your body while exercising, your body becomes stagnant and just goes through the motions. Without shocking your body... there are no gains cardio or strength wise.
ARBOL: What other sports do you enjoy?
JF: Rugby. I’m Australian. I am also a mean ping pong player.
ARBOL: Do your kids box also?
JF: My kids are only 16 months old. Our son isn't interested yet, but our daughter is already hitting the speed bag.
ARBOL: Is boxing something you recommend for anyone interested in sports, or does the danger of it make it prohibitive for some?
JF: I think everyone should know how to protect and defend themselves no matter their age, race, religion, or political views. Boxing is as much physical as it is mental.
ARBOL: Are you interested in opening more FORTUNE gyms in the USA?
JF: We've discussed it. Maybe open another Fortune Gym in Australia next. Los Angeles is so successful that we would love to bring it to another city in the US. Kansas City, MO is an option we have on the table as well right now.