Jason Parillo Talks Passion for the Punch and his Love for Coaching

OC Boxer: From Fighting to Coaching

Written by: Elaine Cutting  Jason Parillo Talks Passion for the Punch and his Love for Coaching
Photographed by: Noble Andrews

The Expert: Jason Parillo
Credentials: Ex professional boxer, trained several world champions: 8 MMA, 2 UFC, 2 kickboxers, 1 boxer.
Current Project: Working with Michael “The Count” Bisping who just recently achieved the most UFC wins in middleweight history.

Jason Parillo is an “Old school” boxer. Boxing is his heart and soul. He has spent nearly every day since he was 17 years old striving to perfect the art and science of boxing. MMA, on the other hand, combines all types of combat styles including jiu-jitsu, wrestling and, of course, boxing. Previously known as “No Holds Barred, ” the official term MMA only began in the early 1990s. The rules are summed up by two restrictions: No groin attacks and no eye attacks. Although MMA has countless origins, many roots of MMA can be traced to Orange County. In fact, at the beginning of MMA fighting, it would have been hard to find a fight card that did not include an OC local like Kimo Leopoldo, David “Tank” Abbott, or Tito Ortiz, who helped bring MMA to the mainstream audience. So, how does a professional amateur boxer from Orange County, obsessed with the subtle science and intricacies of boxing, become one of the most successful MMA coaches in the league? He’s coached big names like BJ Penn and Danny Perez, and trained several champions: 8 MMA, 2 UFC, 2 kickboxers, and of course 1 boxer.

Had MMA been as credible as it is today when Parillo began, he may have competed himself. Parillo was well into his professional career and to him, compared to the science of boxing, MMA was sloppy. He would watch the fighters throw chaotic punches, likening it to “bar-room brawling.”  

Parillo started boxing at the age of 17 and started training beginners at 18. He had a gift, and his coach Jesse Reid aspired to send him to the Olympics. “For me, fighting was mine, ” Parillo says. “I thought to myself, ‘All I care about is to be able to do that’.”

It was a series of injuries that led Parillo to MMA coaching. On his way to boxing stardom, Parillo had a record of 8-0. While sparring, he took a punch that eventually detached his left retina. Parillo took a two-year break and began to train others full time. On the very week he had a chance to restart professional fighting, his arm was snapped in a brawl at a nightclub, officially ending his professional career.

Pat Tenore, founder of RVCA, and friend of Parillo, was sponsoring MMA fighter, BJ Penn. Penn was up against Jens Pulver, a fighter known for his strong boxing, a skill Penn lacked. Tenore introduced the two and Parillo began coaching Penn on boxing.

MMA was picking up popularity after being acquired by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  As a boxer, Parillo could see the weaknesses in the fighters in the cage. He could feel where work needed to be done. Most of the attacks seen in MMA fights are punches and, without proper boxing training, these attacks are usually sloppy. If a fighter masters the basics of boxing, it can be a powerful defensive and offensive tool.

Penn defeated his opponent in two rounds, then went on to win NABC and IBC world titles. Penn’s boxing skills are still often praised as some of the best techniques in the MMA.

Parillo now pours his love for boxing into coaching other fighters. “It’s like osmosis, ” he says. “I know how important it [is] to them and it’s important to me. That second-hand osmosis—it’s a feeling that you can’t get through money. You just get through understanding of what this kid’s been through, and what he’s sacrificed.”

While Parillo specializes in boxing, he works alongside a fighter’s many other trainers who incorporate other styles of martial arts. Parillo’s coaching isn’t only technique however, he also deals with the mental aspect of fighting. “I try to get into their subconscious, ” he says. “I build them in a positive way. And they feel that and they believe in it. And they know it to be true because they see it in the fight.”

And it must pay off, because Parillo’s fighters trust him. They keep winning, and even if they don’t, they keep coming back; they keep fighting. Parillo serves as an example that hard work and a love of what you do can overpower obstacles, and it shows in his fighters when they overcome their next challenger.

Advice for aspiring fighters: “Make sure it’s the love of your life. If it’s not the love of your life, you should think about doing something else. It’s not something you can disrespect—you disrespect MMA it’s gonna disrespect you back; you disrespect boxing, it’s gonna disrespect you back. You gotta have a lot of respect for it and put it before everything in your life.”

Top 5 gear manufacturers:

  1. RVCA
  2. Winning
  3. Everlast
  4. Grant
  5. Casanova

Native Knowledge:

  1. Parillo is partnered with RVCA, who is Parillo’s official gear provider. His gym is located in Orange County at the RVCA headquarters and he is open to training anyone who is willing to learn.
  2. Parillo’s gym also provides regular classes for employees of the RVCA store, which is connected to the gym. They believe fitness is vital to keeping the blood flowing and the morale up with the employees.

Shoot Location:
RVCA Training Facility
960 W 16 St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Parillo’s Business Location:
Parillo Boxing
965 W 16 St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.436.1472
Take a Hit! OC Boxer Talks Passion for the Punch

About the author

Elaine moved across the country to Orange County with her family when she was twelve. She is passionate about frequenting and featuring local businesses and stories. She graduated from University of California Irvine with double majors in English and Literary Journalism. In her free time, you’ll probably find Elaine at a local coffee shop reading or working avidly on her next writing project.

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