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Home Boxing Tom W. McKay Recieves Lifetime Achievement Award
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Tom W. McKay Recieves Lifetime Achievement Award

thomas_mckay_trainerBoxing trainer, writer, mentor, and community leader receives Lifetime Achievement Award. Tom  McKay  (BA UTEP 1971, MA UTEP 1975) was born in Balmorhea , Texas in 1934 to Ermine and Raymond McKay. The family moved to El Paso in the late 1930’s and in the late forties, Santos Quijano gave Tom his first boxing lessons at the CYO. A move to Pampa , Texas came next and boxing coach Ollie Wilhelm gave Tom a job at his local theater and a few pointers when time allowed. Then it was off to San Ysidro , California where Tom worked for his brother as a groom at Caliente Race Track in Tijuana , Mexico . Tom only had time for a few workouts at Archie Moore’s Gym. In 1952 Tom graduated from Mar Vista High School , returned to El Paso , worked for Mountain Bell and joined the 19th Rifle Company of The United States Marine Corps. He took up boxing under trainer Al Porteus. However, he asked for active duty and went back to San Diego at MCRD for basic training, Camp Pendleton for combat training, and then telephone and electronics school in San Diego . It was then off to cold weather training in Pickel Meadows and subsequently, to Japan and a short trip to Korea . Honorably discharged in 1956 Tom went to work for Borden’s Milk Company, married and moved to Odessa , Texas . After two years working at the Butadiene plant there, he returned to El Paso eventually joining the El Paso Police Department. He was on the Union Board of Directors in 1965-66 when that group brought the Golden Gloves franchise back to El Paso after an eight year absence. Marty Martinez was named Tournament Director and Tom assigned to Ring Clerk duties. !966 was a banner year as Mike Andrade won the state Golden gloves 119 lb. title. Tom was a coach of the team to Ft. Worth .

      In 1967 Tom was elected Assistant Director of the Regional Golden Gloves. Later that year, Sheriff Mike Sullivan, Jake Martinez, Sammy Burke, Santos Quijano, Pat Dwyer, Tom and a host of other local boxing mentors formed the Double ‘G’ Club. This club was instrumental in forming SWIABA (Southwestern International Amateur boxing Association) that would finance a local AAU qualifier. The winners then went to the National AAU’s where Earl Large won the national 119 crown and Mike Ortiz a semi-finalist. The team coaches were Sammy Burke and McKay. The team finished 5th out of 52 teams.

       Tom hooked up with Mauricio ‘Chito’ Barragan to learn more training techniques and his son’s Mike and Les were soon on board. So too was Sergio Vela. Rocky Galarza came on as an assistant coach and when Chito suddenly passed away, Rocky and Tom went to the El Paso ’s Carolina Center and set up the boxing team. Tom had worked a night shift on the police department and attended UTEP, graduating with honors in 1971. He also volunteered to help Assumption School ’s athletic program plus coaching football for the optimists in east El Paso . After UTEP graduation Tom coached at Marion Manor School and then was recruited to be a trainer/coach at Austin High School . He still found time to work at Carolina with Rocky as much as possible. He also teamed up with Paul Clinite and Rick Reyna to put on the first ever full contact karate fights in the Southwest with David ‘Chunky’ Ochoa, Tom’s two time heavyweight champion, losing the main event to Randall ‘ Tex ’ Cobb. Cobb moved in with Tom to improve his boxing skills after signing as a pro boxer with Clinite. Soon after, Randy was off to Philadelphia .

       Tom went to night and Summer school at UTEP to obtain his Master’s Degree in 1975. Somehow he managed to work as a coach and boxing official in both El Paso and Las Cruces , New Mexico . Meanwhile, Tom and Rocky worked together whenever possible and went to tournaments in Texas , New Mexico and Arizona and Colorado .

        In 1979 manager Hilary Sandoval brought Cliff ‘Magic’ Thomas to Rocky’s gym to improve his boxing skills. In 1980 Cliff won the PKA’s featherweight title and El Paso ’s first world championship in any sport. Rocky, Ishmael Robles, and Tom worked Cliff’s corner. Cliff would win seven world titles over a long career and Tom and Cliff corroborated on the book, ‘Magic! Magic! Magic!’ Tom was Cliff’s boxing coach for his 7th world title in 2002, one Cliff won at nearly age 46 when he came out of retirement.

       After a trip to the J.O. Nationals where Tom was a coach and an official, Tom was approached by the late Victor Villarreal to become head coach for the Ft. Bliss Falcons. He accepted and the team won two Golden Gloves Open Class titles in Tom’s three years as head coach. Tom would be a Co-Director of the Golden Gloves and JO tournaments with Vic in the coming years. Tom was coaxed into coaching the El Paso Fire Department against Rocky Galarza who coached the Police Department in their annual affair and the Fireman dominated the matches with Tom’s son Mike winning the main event with a 2nd round KO. Tom also taught firearms and law enforcement techniques to rifted Vietnam Veterans under Project Manpower. And Tom started David Rodriguez off on a boxing regimen for over ten years at his Eastside Boxing Gym and with Rocky Galarza before David signed a professional contract with Bob Spagnola.

        In the 80’s Tom formed a pact with Galarza to form Eastside/Rocky’s Boxing Club and many titles followed. Tom was also a judge, referee and finally challenged by two-time National champion Pete Melendez to form a hall of fame. Together with Ted Houghton, Mike Andrade, Vic Villarreall, Alex Guerrero, Santos Quijano, Jim Paschall, Al Garcia, and other good men, the deed was done in 1993. Tom was voted in as the 1st President of the Boxing/Karate Hall of Fame a 501 C3 charitable organization which has an annual banquet to reward local greats and gives all proceeds to charities. Tom was surprised to learn that Jake Martinez wasn’t in the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame and made his case before their committee and Jake was selected in 1993.

        Johnny Ybarra and Tom were working some Tough Man fights in 1995 when Efren Yturralde, principal of Raymond Telles Academy , called Tom over and offered him a job at the  academy to teach boxing classes and science - with a nice raise in pay. Four years of success followed and Tom was named Teacher of The Year in 1998. Over 400 youths participated in the program. However, Tom had cancer that was worsening and he retired, briefly. Joe Bencomo of Powerhouse Gyms recruited Tom as Chief Boxing Trainer at his gyms and then in 2004 Tom met James Butler and Benny Benavides of El Paso Jiu Jitsu and took on the duty of Boxing/Striking coach. Since then cancer and ONJ disease has slowed Tom down but not out.

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Tom McKay  - re: how are you doing /still mad at me.wicho |
mauricio jr barragan wrote:
i read that you have cancer in 2004
but what i don1t know is what happened from there .i hope your ok .from the barragans


Mauricio, I am now a 17 year cancer survivor. At age 79 and with a poker hand of serious diseases, I still train a few boxers three times a week. Go to the phone book and ring me up when you have the opportunity. And have a happy
Tom  - Thanks Alex |
Alex, Muchas Gracias for the wonderful comments. Yes, If I live to 85 I will still someway, somehow, manage to give a few studnts some really fine basics and perhaps a little touch of class.

Many Thanks & Hve a Happy
Alex  - Tom |
Tom is truely a very giving man he actually has alot of different health issues but his dream is boxing he plan on continuing to coach till hes 85 hes el paso best coach im a pupil of his as an amature i plan on fighting in the 2012 golden gloves hes one of the best in the game today and has trained many greats go watch him
Anonymous  - re: how are you doing /still mad at me.wicho |
mauricio jr barragan wrote:
i read that you have cancer in 2004
but what i don1t know is what happened from there .i hope your ok .from the barragans



Oh I have had cancer since 1996,
tom  - re: how are you doing /still mad at me.wicho |
Mauricio, Where are you located? I called the shop on Mesa and you are no longer there. Que Pasa?

I have a new short book out on El Paso Boxing Legends. You might want to buy a dozen of them.
have a happy
Jackie  - Mentor |
Amazing!! Truely a mentor! Thanks Tom for sharing.
Tom  - Well Hello there Quicho |
Quicho, Gosh, it is so nice of you to visit this site. I wish we could get together as time really does fly by entirely too quickly.

As for my demons, I have had aggressive Prostate Cancer for near 14 years, a minor cancer of the thyroid, heart disease (stints), serious stomach problems, and most noticeable, ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw) and to add insult to injury, Osteoporosis. The ONJ has eaten my lower right mandible way and because of the high radioactive contents of some of the drugs I took over the years for osteoporosis, the disease has eaten away my flesh at the mandible area and created a three inch long by near 2 inch wide hole in my flesh, all the way through. I had a titanium plate put in but it was eaten up in due time and two of the screws came out in my wife's hands while she was cleaning the wound. Tjhere is zero medical treatment for this disease. It is ongoing so be careful what you ask for with modern medicine (allopathic).

Say my good man Quicho, I am still training two or three days a week. Feels damned good when I am able to train others and get myself a smidgen of cardio plus blasting the heavy and speed bags for toning and muscle enrichment.

Give me a holler when you can. I am going on 76 and time as you know has no reverseful on living species. We all are goner's soon enough. so, make the best of day and night and [have a happy.

Tom 'the Wizard' McKay
mauricio jr barragan  - how are you doing /still mad at me.wicho |
i read that you have cancer in 2004
but what i don1t know is what happened from there .i hope your ok .from the barragans
anne pilgrim |
Good article Tom..Your sis, Anne
 
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