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Feb 21st
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Home Boxing Jake Martinez Grand Old Master of El Paso Boxing Part 3
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Jake Martinez Grand Old Master of El Paso Boxing Part 3

boxing_image-1Coach Martinez was racking up coach of the year honors in 1993 and 1994 while his star pupils continued to shine brightly in amateur boxing. He set even higher goals for 1995 as it was an Olympic qualifying year. Just as sure as there are stars over Texas he set sail for Atlanta, Georgia to land his boxers a heavenly spot on the 1996 United States Olympic Team in the peach state. Jorge and his wife now had three children to support and 1995 represented his best chance of acquiring a position on the Olympic team. It was now or never for Jorge and he began the year with a big bang by winning The El Paso Regional Golden Gloves, The Texas State Golden Gloves and The National Golden Gloves. All the right pieces of amateur boxing strategy had fell perfectly into place and Jorge was assured of a box off for his lifetime goal.
 Javier was in high gear for 1995 and he won the USA Region VIII Championship to stamp his ticket to the Olympic Box-off’s. Jake took him to California where he raced to the ‘Blue and Gold’ National Championship. He fought in the Pan American Games and lost a close decision in the finals to Albert Guardado of Portland, Oregon. Undeterred, Javier won the 1995 PAL National Tournament held in Dallas, Texas. And he was busy with the USA Boxing team taking victories over Canada and Cuba.
 Back in El Paso, Jake and Jorge made preparations for the challenges in late 1995 and early 1996 and had high hopes of success. Little brother Javier was already a United States Boxing Team regular and popping eye’s out around the globe with his brilliant boxing ability. He did alright in the states too, after winning The El Paso Regional Golden Gloves tournament in February 1996 he wowed the crowd and boxing enthusiasts in Fort Worth with his flashy style and impeccable skills and once again captured the Texas State Golden Gloves title. He topped that thrilling performance at nationals by racing through the competition to the finals. A bump in the road against his nemesis Albert Guardado didn’t slow down his momentum for the Olympic Trials. He lost a too close to call bout in the Chicago Golden Gloves finals. Nevertheless, he pressed on anxiously awaiting the trials but staying fit and fighting for the USA boxing Team.
 The 1996 Olympic Trials rapidly approached and Jorge suffered an injury that left his American Dream in doubt.  Javier made the Las Vegas trip and won all his preliminary bouts and the semi-finals. It was then ‘Showdown’ time against Albert Guardado for the Olympic Flyweight position. Jake’s only change in strategy against Guardado was for Javier to take the initiative in close quarters and as the old cliché goes, stand and deliver. Javier followed Jake’s orders exactly and not only completely out - boxed Guardado but put him on the seat of his pants in toe – to – toe  head – to – head confrontations. Javier so completely dominated the fight that Jake figured the decision a no brainer. Neither he nor Javier were ready for the hair - raising, terrifying, incredulous, indigestible, decision for Guardado after Javier’s indomitable performance. Their fury at the judges had to be controlled in the name of good sportsmanship.
 After being consoled by other trainers and boxers, Jake took a few silent moments to contemplate the disaster that had occurred just minutes before. In the past, judges made the decision as to the winner. Now a computer system whereby three judges have less than a second to record three hits for a point was deemed superior to the old system. If it was just a computer scoring Javier would have won in a landslide. However, for a judge to hold a system in his hand and know which button for the red corner and which button to hit for the blue corner at a given moment wherein two of the three judges have to simultaneously make contact in order for a hit to be recorded and three for a point is just ludicrous, a farce. That is why they had five back up judges doing the scoring the old fashioned way, the best way, by observing the fighters one hundred per – cent of the bout. It isn’t always perfect but the judges get it right most of the time. Jake finally calmed himself enough to approach the officials and asked for the back up judge’s score
cards.  Just as he suspected, all five had given Javier the decision. Javier would have to settle for being an Olympic Alternate in Atlanta. That decision did not sit well with Javier. He informed his coach that he was so disgusted with the outcome that he would not wait around for another Olympics but would rather turn professional.
 Once home in El Paso, Javier signed his professional contract with Jake and from June to November of 1996 recorded four straight knockouts over less talented boxers. The El Paso Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame recognized him with an award as ‘Athlete of The Year.’ He was a light flyweight and continued his professional development in 2007 against better fighters but remained undefeated with four wins and a draw for his excellent year. And then it was another chance at redemption. Albert Guardado had turned professional and was undefeated in five bouts. The ‘Reunion’ for Javier took place in Studio City, California January 10th, 2008. In a six rounder Javier again completely out boxed and outclassed Guardado with the judges agreeing with scorecards of 58 – 56, 59 – 55, and 60 – 54. Javier’s paycheck wasn’t anywhere close to the amount of satisfaction he gained with the win and a measure of vindication for the Olympic robbery.
 The future looked bright again for Javier and Jake sent him up against tough as nails and undefeated Arturo Velasquez (10 – 0) in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 3rd, 1998. In one of his best performances as a professional, Javier dispatched Velasquez by TKO in the fifth round. The fans wanted the talented and spirited boxer back in their city again and Jake obliged them; trainer and boxer returned on May 19th where Javier electrified the crowd with six rounds of superb boxing mixed with some stunning canon shot left hooks and right hands in a romp over Armando Diaz. That win made Javier a candidate for NABA Light Flyweight Title against Oscar Andrade, a very tough boxing warhorse.
 The title fight was arranged at the El Paso Coliseum on the evening of August 8th, 1998. Javier was raring to go as was the rugged Andrade. And rugged Andrade was. As the feature fight of the night progressed Javier’s ring prowess put him ahead on points but some savage infighting resulted in Javier damaging his right hand and over the last few rounds of the scheduled twelve rounder he had to depend on his speed and ring know how to ward off Andrade’s pressing attack. Still, it appeared he might have built up enough of an early lead to grab the title. It wasn’t to be, judges Rocky Burke, Levi Martinez, and Bill Paige scored the fight nearly even but not quite good enough for Javier and Jake. The majority decision went to Andrade. Javier suffered his first defeat as a professional. The really bad news was his injury and how long he would need to mend.
 Jake knew better than the physicians in town that a severe wrist injury can ruin a budding professional career. After some nine months of rehabilitation, Javier wanted to get his career back on track. Jake had been willing too but the long layoff and the ‘Kid Gloves’ approach to his boxers sparring and preparation wasn’t of the necessary gold standard previously accomplished. Something had to give and Jake finally gave the go ahead for a bout against Leonardo Gutierrez of Mexicali, Mexico at the Miccosukee Indian Gaming Resort in Miami, Florida. Leonardo was another one those Mexican knockout artists who live or die by bloody ring wars. On July 1997 he warred with world champion to be Jorge Arce for twelve brutal rounds before losing a close decision in a Pacific Coast Light Flyweight Championship match. 
 The extended lay off was evident in the bout as Javier’s legs didn’t have the quick movements to avoid the attacks of a skilled slugger. His hand speed was good but not great and he was forced to slug it out with the gutsy Gutierrez much to Jakes dismay. Jorge had gained five pounds extra and was fighting at 112 pounds for the first time in his professional career. Yet he gave no excuses and battled dead even with Gutierrez at close range and scored heavily at long range until the eighth round. In that fatal round, Javier just wore out and couldn’t muster up enough offense to hold back the onrushing Gutierrez. In a give and take exchange both fighters were badly hurt but Jorge had to chuck it in and lost by a TKO. It would be his final fight as Jake determined that it would be too many months of recuperating for each and every fight and he wanted his champion to retire without further damage.
 It was a wise choice that Jake made. He had already promoted Jorge to a supervisory position in his security business and Javier was matrimonial bound. Jake saw to it that his young protégé would have the good life in the working place. Coincidentally, Gutierrez never recovered from the ring war with Javier. He lost his next five bouts by knockout and went down the bloody trail of body and brain damage by being knocked out in seventeen of his last twenty fights. Sometimes boxing story’s can be just utterly sad. Sometimes they are golden and Jake made sure that his two young winners would always be seeking the gold out of the ring as well as they did in the ring.
 Over the next ten years Jake Martinez would continue to lead El Paso’s boxing colony with his leadership as USA/Boxing Director, Golden Gloves Official, Sunturian Director, Golden Gloves Official to state, guiding new staff members, and offering his expertise to youngsters at the Carolina Boxing facility. His legacy has been established in every facet of boxing. His triumph’s with the Munoz brothers is unprecedented in El Paso Golden Gloves and local USA/BOXING history. Just think for a minute if you will, Jake Martinez led his two outstanding boxers to six Texas State Golden Gloves Championships, eight Texas USA State championships, One USA National Boxing title, one PAL National title, one Golden Gloves National Title, three Blue and Gold titles, the Olympic Trials,  and served as a coach to the Olympic Festival in France. His boxing credentials over five decades ‘speaks’ to greatness; and that Jake Martinez was and is. Though quite ill at age seventy seven, don’t be surprised to see the well dressed icon at the 2010 Regional Golden Gloves. You can’t miss his trademark Stetson hat as three-time state champion and Golden Gloves Director Junior Vicencio invites the old master back home, into the ring.

Have a Happy
Thomas W. McKay

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