- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Boxing
Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis started his boxing career on the Eastside of LA, and now he is looking to become one of the world’s best.
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis has stepped into the ring with some of the greatest fighters of this era. “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Antonio Margarito, just to name a few. He has held his own with all of them, and they all respect his skills.
But those were sparring sessions. Now Pendarvis is looking to make a name for himself, instead of loosely being linked to other great boxers.
Years of training have taken Pendarvis to a point where he can fight on the highest level of boxing. He started boxing at the age of 10 on the Eastside of Los Angeles. He excelled in football, basketball, track, swimming, diving, and tennis, but boxing was his passion. His first experience in the ring was at Washington Park.
“I walked into the gym at Washington Park to have a little fun,” Pendarvis said. “I wanted to spar against a kid who was the best in the city, but they told me to get out of the gym. I told them that the only way I’d leave is if they let me fight him. They put the gloves on me and I did me thing. They were like ‘What the heck?’ Then they told me to keep coming back.”
The sport of boxing mirrors Pendarvis’ life. As a ward of the court, he moved around as a child and he attended a few high schools, including Fremont.
“Boxing is an independent and disciplined sport.” Pendarvis said. “With the lifestyle that I grew up under, it helped me with self-control. It took me away from the streets and the gangbanging atmosphere and the drugs atmosphere.”
Pendarvis compares his style to Floyd Mayweather and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.
“I can crack you from any angel,” Pendarvis said. “I have some of the best footwork in the game. Some of the best hand speed in the game. I’m a very slick boxer/puncher.”
Tommy Brooks, Pendarvis’ trainer, agrees with that assessment.
“The first day I worked with him he reminded me of another boxer that I worked with named Pernell Whitaker,” Brooks said. “Sweet Pea went on to be a 3-time champion of the world and one of the best fighters that I’ve worked with. To get a guy so much like him, it’s unbelievable. It’s like they came from the same mother or something. Both of them are southpaws with unbelievable hand speed. Both of these cats are fast enough to put handcuffs on lightning.”
Brooks is extremely familiar with Whitaker. He worked his way up to become Whitaker’s head trainer, and he has trained several other champions. Brooks sees a lot of potential in Pendarvis, and Pendarvis is buying into Brooks’ system.
“He made a difference in my career,” Pendarvis said. “Coach doesn’t play. This is a business, and he really takes it serious. If you take it as a joke, then he’ll look at you like a joke, and he’ll give you the boot like a joke. He’s going to help me to get to the next level.”
Pendarvis’ first fight with Brooks as his trainer will be on Saturday, July 22, at Hollywood Park Casino. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
The pair has been working together for the past six months, and Brooks said that the biggest difference in Pendarvis now is that he is in great shape, which may have been a problem earlier in his career. Brooks says that Pendarvis has the talent to become a champion, and now that he is in great shape, he should rise up the ranks at a much faster pace.