For a city of just under 50,000, Gilroy, California, has made its mark on the sports world. Robert Guerrero is its three-time world champion in boxing, but the town is represented on the gridiron, too, by four-time Pro Bowler Jeff Garcia.
Garcia came to prominence as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers from 1999-2003, right when Guerrero, who takes on Keith Thurman March 7 in Las Vegas for the debut Premier Boxing Champions card, was rising through the ranks en route to his first title shot in 2006. You’d think that might be awkward when they ran into each other around town, given Guerrero is a big Oakland Raiders fan.
“The funny thing is, I think Jeff Garcia is a Raiders fan, too,” Guerrero said. “I was a Raiders fan way before Jeff Garcia played from the Niners. But I was a Jeff Garcia fan, so every time they would play I would root for them. His father actually lives not that far from my father.”
Garcia is the quarterbacks coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League now. He started he career in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders, so he’s come full circle. But Garcia’s time north of the border doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have time for Northern California.
“It’s nice to have two top professional athletes come out of Gilroy, and for being such a small community, Jeff and myself really inspire a lot of the youth to go out there and work hard and get it,” Guerrero said. “We’re living proof that it can be done no matter where you live or where you’re from, no matter how big or small the town is.”