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Apr 12th
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Home Boxing Grand Old Master of El Paso Boxing Part 2
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Grand Old Master of El Paso Boxing Part 2

convicted_artist_05Jake loved his job on the Sheriff’s Department. However, besides winning state in 1955 he and Paula had their first son, Jacob. In 1957 they welcomed a lovely daughter, Leticia. Their beautiful daughter with a thirst for knowledge, Susanna, was born in 1959. As most informed people in the southwest know, Susanna is the District Attorney in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jake and his wife sacrificed much of their social life and nonessential items to maintain a budget that would help their children obtain a higher education. Susanna was an intellect and she attended UTEP before graduating with a law degree from Oklahoma University. She was then invited to the prestigious English College, Oxford, for further studies. Nevertheless, Jake had his sights set on improving his status in life and living a moderate middle class lifestyle.
 Jake soon left the Sheriff’s office around 1972 for greener pastures in the garment industry. He was hired as Chief of Security for Mann Manufacturing and his family benefitted well from the extra dollars he earned. Life was good and Jake was able to find the time to immerse himself into his boxing sport as an official, trainer, and referee. That being said he also aspired to own his own business. After two years of research and study, Jake opened his own security company and through his entrepreneurship built the firm into a major industry with a payroll in the millions of dollars. And he accomplished those goals without giving up a minute of his boxing time.
 Over the next two decades Jake was nominated as Golden Gloves Director a few times and then he was placed in charge of USA Boxing for the El Paso Southwest Border Region. In that capacity he would lead the organization to new heights and money making adventures. One of the most rewarding ventures was his idea of creating the Annual Sunturians Fight Night. That lone event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for young El Paso boxers to have proper equipment and travel expenses for state Golden Gloves and USA Boxing tournaments.
 From all appearances it seemed as if Jake had the good life in hand. Yet he had been an official for so long that one day while pondering his career he discovered that he missed the most basic aspect of boxing, training young people. He had a few brief occasions in the past but the family business, USA Boxing responsibility, local and state Golden Gloves duties and his Sunturian project were time consuming and for years he just had to live with that void. However, good fortune was on the horizon and Jake would soon be on his way to becoming an elite trainer and an El Paso legend.
 It was the 1990’s and Jake was about to begin a golden journey that would put a huge punctuation mark on his illustrious career. In 1990 two small boys, Jorge and Javier Munoz, who had taken up boxing with their father, Jorge Sr., were left to tears when their father suddenly passed away. They were also left without a trainer and near penniless. Jake took an immediate interest in the lads and offered to become their trainer and mentor. Before long he was their father figure. They were humbled to come under Jakes care and pledged to be the best boxers and citizens possible under his direction. What a direction it was as Jake embarked on a training career that even surpassed his magnificent boxing career. The Munoz brothers responded by learning Jake’s boxing training regimen and most importantly, learned Jakes insistent philosophy of how to maintain a cool head when under heavy fire and use that knowledge to graduate step by step to the level of National Champions and Olympians.
 Jorge was the eldest of the brothers and when Jake declared him ready to box, he was ready to box. Jake took him on the road, racked up several wins and then returned to El Paso where in 1991 Jorge cruised through the 119 lb. Regional Golden Gloves Open Class to earn a trip to state. He gained valuable experience there and a few months later won a qualifying tournament for the ABF Texas State Championship. Jorge demonstrated his ring confidence and maturity as he took home the gold medal for his first state championship. And it was such a great feeling, so good of a feeling that Jorge wanted more of it and soon. Jake would grant him his wish.
 1992 was a banner year for Jorge. Once again he captured the El Paso Regional Golden Gloves Championship as a bantamweight, lost state by a narrow decision but continued to excel at the State ABF Championships, nabbing his second state title. He married his girlfriend, the sweet Alma Araceli, and the wedding bells rang cheerfully for him and his bride.
  Ah 1993, what a spectacular year for Jake and his boys. Jake took both of the Munoz boys on the road again gaining valuable experience in Mexico, New Mexico and even California. Javier was now a seventeen year old open class boxer but he already possessed the skills and ring generalship of a top open class fighter. He had a swagger about him that meant more than being a show – off, it was the personification of his being electric, of being pertinacious to the learning of his art. As his brother swept through tough open class fighters to win both the Texas Golden Gloves State Championship and the National Blue and Gold Crown in California, Javier made his open class debut  with a third place finish at the Blue and Gold Nationals as a flyweight and scored his first title in The El Paso Regional Golden Gloves. There’s more, George won his third ABF state championship and was selected to the United States National Boxing Team by The United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Jake was then asked to have Jorge ready for a duel with the French National Boxing Team on March 23rd, 1993.  Jorge was preparing for the National Golden Gloves that had a conflicting date with the USA/French match. It was a tough dilemma for both coach and boxer. Jorge was the favorite to win the Golden Gloves title but the opportunity to represent the Unites States internationally had long – term benefits meaning that Jorge was high on the USA list for Olympic candidates. So Jake and Jorge opted for France.
 It was the first trip to France for both Jake and Jorge. Outside of taking in a few historical sites and reveling in the city of Marseille’s architecture, theirs was not a cosmopolitan vacation. Their sites were on the French champion, Francois Cobrait. The bout was the third on the card at 54 kilograms. Jorge was not intimidated by the French teams home arena advantage though the first two bouts went to French boxers. Jorge just took it to his adversary from the opening bell with hand speed, combination sets and telling body blows. His domination was so thorough that the French judges gave him a runaway nod by six points over Cobrait. It was a stunning defeat for the French champion and a noteworthy win for Jorge in his first bout as a USA representative. At the completion of the twelve bout card, Jorge was again honored with presentation of the United States Team Best Boxer Award. The trip back home was safe and satisfying. More satisfaction was greeted the team a few months later when teenage brother Javier was selected to the National Team. All was good in the Martinez camp; it would soon get even better, not just for the Munoz brothers but for Jake Martinez.
 In early 1993 coach Tom McKay was getting a haircut from two – time national champion Pete Melendez. Pete was irate because the big shots from the local boxing community he tried to coerce to form a boxing hall of fame had never backed their yea’s, nor did the city ever listen to his pleas to form a boxing hall of fame. Pete had already been inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame but he wished deeply to be honored by his peers. Tom listened and made a promise to Pete that the good deed would be accomplished. Tom approached bank president Ted Houghton, 1966 Golden gloves state boxing Champion and businessman Mike Andrade, the late Santos Quijano, the affable boxer turned businessman, Alex Guerrero, the Beau Brummel of boxing Vic Villarreal, and Aldaberto Garcia to acquire start up funding. Within two days and handshakes to cement the deal, the hall became a reality. After bye – laws and a constitution were written up, the newly formed corporation, the El Paso Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame, aka the El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fame and if necessary aka The El Paso boxing Hall of Fame presented work to the IRS to become a 501 C3 Charitable organization. Within months the hall had charitable status and the first board of directors elected. Tom McKay was elected the first president, Vic Villarreal and Aldaberto Garcia vice – presidents, Mike Andrade secretary, Alex Guerrero treasurer, and director’s Santos Quijano, Troy Denham, Ray Sanchez, Rick Reyna, Guadiosa Ruby, Gary Ruby and Jim Paschall. Martial artist Colonel Mack Boone would come on board later in the year. Influential board member Ted Houghton sadly passed away a few weeks after securing substantial funding for the hall. The inductee’s were selected in July and the first ever banquet set for August 1st, 1993.
 While reviewing records in the early days of the hall’s formation president Mckay was surprised to learn that Jake Martinez had not been inducted into The El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. Since their elections of candidates was earlier in the year Tom took Jake’s credentials to the Athletic Halls Board of Directors, presented the boxing facts and the fine citizenship of Jake and waited for their final votes. Yes, Jake was honored at their great location at UTEP in 1993 and a plaque with his name and photo is a permanent fixture in the surrounding hallways of the Don Haskins Center. Of utmost importance was the Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame inducting both Pete Melendez and Jake Martinez. Pete, who recently passed away, was a proud recipient of the first awards banquet and at the 1999 banquet was honored as ‘Boxer of The Century.’
 One has to appreciate the spectacular year Jake and the Munoz brother’s had in 1993. Jorge was a recognized keen boxing artist and enjoyed a brilliant record of sixty - five career wins against only six losses. The 1993 Hall of Fame crowned him ‘Boxer of The Year.’ Teenager Javier, despite fighting older opponents, built his record to a sparkling forty wins with only seven losses. It was quite a grand year and both boxers were nationally ranked with Jorge holding the number two position nationally. What were Jakes expectations for 1994? He considered his charges were just master students of the 12th grade of boxing, 1994 would test them for higher certification at the state, national and worldwide boxing institutions.
 Well wishes for a successful 1994 poured in by the dozens from local and national media for Jake and the Munoz’ brothers. But there was no wishing for Team Martinez, Jake relied on two-a-day’s in the gym and extended roadwork to sharpen his protégé’s.
February would prove just how sharp. In The El Paso Regional Golden Gloves both brothers battled their way to open class championships. Big Brother again took the National ‘Blue and Gold’ tournament in California with Javier settling for the Bronze Medal at the games despite a scintillating performance in the semi – finals that surely spelled ‘VICTORY’ but apparently didn’t influence enough of the judges.
 Next up was the Texas USA State Championships. Jake had confidence in the brothers to take down individual titles and they responded in kind by taking the flyweight and bantamweight championships. Those wins qualified the young dynamic brothers for the USA Nationals. However both boxers were on call for the USA National Team. Jorge was working in the security business with Jake to support his family and had to forego any international competition. So he just conquered all at the Nationals. Meanwhile Javier literally leaped at the opportunity and traveled with the team to take on the National Mexican Team in Mexico City where he displayed his amazing skills and quickness to thousands of boxing fans, decisively beating their national champion. Before long he was on call for Team USA once more to take on the talented Russians. Javier was now at home in any ring anywhere in the world and he stuffed the Russian Champion for another outstanding Team USA victory. The young teenager was making his mark in the game and the boxing world noticed.
 Javier continued winning big fights in 1994 and topped his season off with a national triumph at USA Games and thereby qualified for the Olympic Trials. He also was selected to fight on the USA Team against the dominant force in amateur boxing, the Cuban’s. Rarely does a young USA Boxer win against Cuba. The Communist country does not have professional boxing yet their fighters have two to three hundred bouts over a long career and dominate the Olympics. Nevertheless, Javier was enthusiastic about matching up against a champion Cuban foe and sure enough demonstrated his lightning quickness and punching effectiveness to win one for the USA. If Jake was looking forward to 1995 Jorge and Javier were looking forward to amazing glory.

  (To be continued)  - Click Here for Part 1 

Grand Old Master of El Paso Part 1

Thomas W. McKay


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