As one of five generations of boxers, Robert is among a rare breed of fighters, including his grandfather, Alfonso Ortiz; his father, Mike “Top Dog” Ortiz; his son, Robert “Scrappy” Ortiz Jr.; and his grandson, Timothy Ortiz. In the United States, the Ortiz family joins few with five generations of boxers, including the Ali family, the Frazier family, and the Mayweather family.
The Ortiz fighters train at Kid Gloves Boxing in Simi Valley, which Robert originally started in his back yard nearly three decades ago. The gym, now located at the Simi Town Center, previously operated in two locations, the first on Los Angeles Avenue, which was destroyed during the El Niño rains in the late 1990s, and then relocated to Tapo Street with help from local fundraising efforts.
Kid Gloves was originally founded in the mid-1950s by Frankie Goodman, a Harvard professor who taught children from as early as four years old to street-wise punks in the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Frank also had a gym in Van Nuys, California, where he discovered and trained many professionals. Frankie worked with many great boxers, including Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammed Ali.
Frankie Goodman, the founder of Kid Gloves, mentored Robert and his brothers when they were young. Goodman was an intercollegiate lightweight champion, promoter, trainer, manager, referee, television boxing show producer and host; as well as an author and owner of gyms and boxing schools for boys in his native Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
“I got my start by somebody who opened the doors for my family, and how he treated us was the most respectful way, and that’s where my respect comes for other people and helping people out,” Robert said.
Robert opened Kid Gloves in Simi Valley nearly three decades ago as a place where fighters could train, but with a special focus on latch-key kids who had nowhere to go, especially unattended after school, and would be out getting into trouble otherwise. They’d be required to finish their homework in exchange for gym time, in which they’d punch the heavy bag, skip rope, shadow box and perform other athletic tasks while in the presence of real fighters who’d serve as positive role models. The kids also participated in Robert’s boxing class for children, where’d they’d learn discipline through training, and would be asked to repeat a concept that Robert recites to this day: “ABC Backwards — Conceive, Believe, Achieve.”
Kid Gloves is the training spot for professional boxers and MMA fighters, as well as numerous fitness classes. One of the gym’s signature offerings is called “Punching Out Parkinson’s,” a zero-contact training method that involves exercises associated with boxing, including moving back and forth through shadow boxing, hitting the focus mitts and moving side to side using a double-end bag. According to scientific research, these movements help create neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, which actually helps the cells guard against Parkinson’s disease.