Rolly Romero speaks on childhood trauma and bullying, opponent Gervonta Davis, and past sexual assault allegations ahead of his May 28 boxing bout.
Every boxing fan feels some way about Rolly Romero. His sensationally bombastic rhetoric makes fans and enemies, but maybe there’s more to Romero than his television and social media persona.
It’s easy to judge someone based on a selection of video clips. Romero is known for his raw speech and in-your-face trash-talking, but he has also shown a different side of his personality.
The 26-year-old Romero first talked to FanSided in August 2020. He shared the story of his father’s perilous journey from Cuba to the U.S., his devastation from a lost love, and a cryptic account of how Floyd Mayweather saved his life.
A year later, he revealed that he was involved in a car wreck before his bout with Anthony Yigit and had ankle injuries.
The third time around, he provided more revelations for FanSided.
“I went in there [against Yigit] with a broken, my right hand was broken, right?” Romero told FanSided. “I hit this motherf**ker, and I’m over there, you know, is like BOOM BOOM, you know. I’m over there with a jab, right, and like I said, Yigit a big dude. He came in, that fat motherf**ker, and came in five pounds overweight, you know? Like that’s not normal. I’m knocking out 140-pounders right, so I hit him right here right, boom. I f**k up my f**king left hand.”
Romero went in against Yigit with a broken right hand and then broke his left on Yigit’s head. He showed FanSided his ring finger, which sat significantly lower than the others.
Romero once again used colorful language as he laughed, telling his Yigit story. His blunt style is one of his characteristics, but many fighters feel a schism between their private and public identities.
Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder believes Deontay and ‘The Bronze Bomber’ are two different people. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ allows him to be ruthless in the ring.
Maybe that parallels Romero. ‘Rolly’ is his nickname, but Romero’s birth name is Rolando.
Is there a difference between ‘Rolly’ and ‘Rolando’?
“I mean, you ask 1,000 different people, you’ll probably get 1,000 different answers,” Romero said. “So I mean, however, or it depends, what side you get to know me. I mean, there’s a side that you know, that people know me, and there’s another side I don’t let people know, or less, like few, know me, you know? And, I mean, the people that know the real, real, real, real me, they’ll tell you something completely different.”
Gervonta Davis and Rolly Romero fight on Saturday, May 28, on Showtime pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET
According to Romero, the people that know him best would describe him as “the smartest person they’ve ever met.” That’s more of a trait than part of someone’s inner being.
In getting to know the real Romero, you have to go back to his childhood, which was traumatic.
Romero grew up in menacing North Las Vegas. He was a loner who was isolated and picked on by his peers.
“I never grew up with friends or anything,” Romero said. “I’ve always been by myself, even as a kid. You know, my dad always told me if I’m going to do something, do it alone, you know, but I was always as a kid, like, I was always socially awkward. ”
As an adolescent, Romero struggled with his speech. That hindered his communication with others, which further isolated Romero.
“I honestly, I couldn’t speak as a kid,” Romero said. “They had put me in speech classes and s**t, you know? So I had a hard time speaking and a hard time really expressing how I could, you know, what I felt and you know, expressing really anything, you know? And I would get in trouble a lot because of it, you know?”
Romero’s peers proved cruel, and they bullied him because of his speech problems. He retaliated the only way he knew how, by fighting back physically.
“I got bullied a lot,” Romero said with a shift in his voice. “My entire middle school. Man, I’ll tell you like this, I was in a fight every f**king day. If you look at my middle school records, this fucking thing like and I like I said, I’m not even f**king exaggerating. Like I was in at least 30 fights in middle school. I would get in a lot of trouble.”
As Romero talked about the past, the pitch of his voice lowered, and his pain and thoughtfulness showed through. It’s not a side of Romero most people see.
Despair, humiliation, and lowered self-esteem are emotions Romero navigated throughout his young life. He further detailed moments of his youth in school.
“I remember one time right, I f**kin knocked this kid out, right,” Romero recalled. “This kid threw water on me. To this day, if somebody throws water on me, I will f**king swing at them. I f**king hate when people throw water on me. If they throw water at me or they pat my f**king head, I f**king instantly turn around and want to swing at somebody, right?”
That was Romero’s seventh-grade Field Day experience. Another day where he felt he needed to battle against mean-spirited taunts at his expense.
If you take a Freudian approach, it might not be that Romero hates water as much as the symbolic put down of that action that left its mark. If you look closely at Romero between rounds during his bouts, you won’t see a trainer splashing him with water.
All this took place before Romero put on a pair of boxing gloves. His enjoyment of the sport makes sense.
Boxing is a way for Romero to take out his anger, and he’s good at it. As good as he is with his fists, Romero now has the verbal tools to fight back. Just take a look at some of the things he has said about his next opponent, Gervonta Davis.
There’s been plenty of back-and-forth between Romero and Davis in the lead up to their May 28 Showtime pay-per-view bout. The animosity between them has built up over time.
Romero was supposed to fight Davis in December 2021 but was replaced by Isaac Cruz after sexual assault allegations were made on social media against Romero. Romero released a message on Instagram proclaiming his innocence, and charges were never filed.
He’s back in against Davis, but Romero still feels the impact of that moment.
“The only thing that irks me is that I could have lost an opportunity and been out of the ring for multiple for multiple years, you know,” Romero said. “And I think it’s f**cked up that I had to go through it.”
Romero continued, “I am blessed that I was found innocent of everything because, in reality, that’s f**ked up. Like, and it couldn’t just happen to me, it can happen to you. It can happen to Tank. It could happen to anybody, you know. And they did it with no probable cause or anything. They did it over a f**king tweet with nothing backing it. And no evidence, no nothing. Not even a f**king screenshot that they even knew me. And I get taken off of the literally my legacy moment.”
It seems like that situation is over, but it remains with Romero. Yes, Romero is brash, boisterous, and sometimes crude, but behind the words, there’s a person there too. It’s easy to forget when you see an outrageous quote flying through the airwaves, but ‘Rolly’ and ‘Rolando’ are the same person.
There are real feelings and emotions there, but you just have to ask the right questions to gain access to the real Romero.