Kenny Weldon

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kenny weldon, galena park boxing, houston boxing legacy, bill gore, benny leonard, willie pep

Kenny Weldon started boxing as an amateur in Houston in 1953. A native of Galena Park, Texas, Kenny had an amateur record of 216-11, winning 4 Houston Golden Gloves Titles in the process and also competing in the State and National Golden Gloves Tournaments as well as the Pan American Games, before turning pro in 1968. As a pro, Kenny went 50-7-1 claiming the Texas Featherweight Title and N.A.B.F. Super Featherweight title before retiring as a fighter in 1978.

Kenny’s greatest accomplishments, however, came as a coach. A protege of all-time great trainer Bill Gore, who was a Benny Leonard protege, Kenny was taught an analytical and scientific approach to boxing that allowed him to become one of the most successful boxing teachers in the history of the sport.  The program he established at The Galena Park Boxing Academy produced 316 Houston Golden Gloves Champions, 51 Texas State Amateur Champions, 17 National Amateur Champions, 3 Pan Am Medalists, and 3 Olympians. Kenny also served as a coach for The U.S. Olympic Team in 1988.

Gilbert Renteria, currently ranked in the top 10 of the USA Boxing, Elite Men’s 114 pound Division, is one of the last boxers to be directly trained by Kenny Weldon, who is still active in the amateurs. Renteria will undoubtedly become a professional Champion in the future, and will continue to add to the Kenny Weldon and Houston boxing legacies.  

As a professional coach, Kenny cornered 18 world title fights with Hall of Famers such as Evander Holyfield, Vinny Pazienza, Orlando Canizales, Mike McCallum, Raul Marquez and Pernell Whitaker, as well as local legends like Wilford Scypion, Termite Watkins, Mike Phelps, James Pipps, Joel Perez, Stephen Martinez and Lewis Wood.

Always a fierce advocate for teaching proper fundamentals, Kenny also authored one of the top selling boxing intructional videos of all time.
Kenny retired from boxing for health reasons in 2013, but his impact can still be felt in the Houston boxing scene with a host of his former fighters and students now operating gyms of their own.

The Greatest, Three Knockdowns, and Third Ward, Houston, Texas


Muhammad Ali was and will always be cosmically tied to Houston, Texas as many important events in his life took place in our town, and he spent a considerable amount of time here training and promoting his fights. 

His earliest introduction to the consciousness of the Houston and Houston area boxing scene may have been as Cassius Clay, when he beat Cut ‘N’ Shoot’s Henry Harris Jr. in the light-heavyweight semi-finals of the 1960 National Golden Gloves Tournament. Of course, even if Ali had not spent a considerable amount of time in Houston, he would still have always been connected to us via the October 30, 1974, Rumble in the Jungle, where he knocked out our own George Foreman in the eighth round. For this unlikely win alone we may have never forgotten the name of Muhammad Ali, but we were privileged enough to have him compete in Houston four times throughout the 60’s and 70’s, beating Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, and Buster Mathis. His refusal to be drafted into the military and ultimate indictment took place in Houston as well as he had temporarily resided in Houston at that time.  

Ali also filmed many scenes of the movie “The Greatest” in Houston in 1976, but his GREATEST contribution to our great city and local boxing legacy took place in 1971, when he promoted and participated in a sparring match with Houston boxer, coach, and youth advocate Reverend Ray Martin Sr. The sparring match was heavily promoted and was Ali’s way of supporting Reverend Ray Martin and his Progressive Amateur Boxing Association (P.A.B.A). Martin had established The P.A.B.A. in Houston’s Third Ward, as a means to keep our local youth off the streets, away from drugs and in the ring, and at the time did not have very much support or recognition both locally and nationwide. The sparring match took place at The Houston Astrohall, where Ali was “knocked down” by Martin three times. Ali not only pretended to be knocked down three times during the match to help bring support and recognition to Reverend Martin, he also would continue to promote the Reverend and The P.A.B.A. by “calling out” Martin on television and radio whenever he was in town, saying he wanted a rematch with the Reverend and that the Reverend had “Got lucky and knocked me down”! The Champ would also claim he had slipped and promised to send, “The good Reverend to heaven by seven”!  

This kind, generous, and extraordinary act was just one of many of the genuinely GREAT things that Ali did in his lifetime but it left a lasting legacy of love and positivity that continues to bless Houston, and in particular Houston’s Third Ward to this day! Ali’s generosity, heart, courage, and love for his fellow man is what made him “The Greatest” above any of the many accomplishments in boxing he achieved, in my opinion, and I hope this article helps people understand the true GREATNESS of Muhammad Ali!  



Coach Santos Montemayor

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Magnolia “Y” Golden Glove Champions

Here is a photo of one of Houston boxing’s legendary coaches, Coach Santos Montemayor, with a few of his 1960’s and 1970’s Golden Gloves Champions. Coach Montemayor trained his boxers out of The Magnolia YWCA for many years before retiring and definitely has been a lifelong, positive influence on many in the Houston area and The Magnolia Barrio in Houston’s East End. Since I’ve been researching and interviewing some of the old-timers in Houston boxing history, I’ve heard lots of impressive things about Coach Montemayor and his Magnolia “Y” boxers. I hope to be able to write up a full article on Coach Montemayor at a later time and maybe even an interview. Here is Coach Montemayor with some of the boxers he has made lifelong connections and friendships with, at a dinner held in his and his wife’s honor, given by one of his boxers.  

All of these fighters participated in The Houston Golden Gloves at least once. Four in the photo won The Houston Golden Gloves at least once. Several in the photo won twice and David Martinez Jr and Oscar Trevino won a total of 4 and 5 times! There are at least 6 ex-Magnolia “Y” Golden Glove Champions not in the picture, as well as Joe Louis Valdez, who we highlighted before, not pictured in this photo but trained by Coach Santos Montemayor.  Pictured in this photo along with Coach Montemayor and his wife Rosie are, David Martinez Jr, Oscar Trevino, Fred Garza, Terry Torrence, Jesse Baraza, Johnny Juarez, Elias Gomez, Oscar Rodriguez, Joel Ramirez and Abraham Espinoza.  


Houston Golden Gloves Boxing Legends

  Houston Golden Gloves Boxing Legends 

Clutch City Boxing will award a free Clutch City Boxing T-Shirt to the first  person that can identify these two legendary Houston Golden Gloves Boxing  Champions. One of these legends won a total of 1 Novice Division and 3 Open  Division Championships! The other legend won 5 Open Division Championships! 

Both legends have been continuously mentioned among several others that we  will also recognize at a later time, as two of the finest boxers to ever  compete in The Houston Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament.   

To win you must reply directly to the original post at 

Prize can be mailed to you or you can pick it up at The Grind Boxing Academy  and Fitness Center at 18075 West Little York, Katy, Texas 77449.  

Roy “Cut and Shoot” Harris

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Roy Harris , Cut and Shoot, Texas

Born 1933  

Amateur Career: fought at middleweight and light heavyweight. 6-time regional golden glove champion.  4-time state golden glove champion, 1952-55. won the Joe Louis sportsmanship award at the 1955 nationals tournament.   

Professional career: 30 wins, 5 loses and 1 no contest.   

Roy has continued his ambition and success after retiring from boxing at 28 years of age, serving as a Montgomery County Clerk for 28 years, becoming a practicing attorney in 1972, and drawing up the paperwork to incorporate Cut and Shoot as its own municipality.   

Father Henry Harris Sr., a bare-knuckle boxing champion and Southern Heavyweight Prizefighting Champion, taught his sons boxing and wrestling from an early age. Henry Sr. also taught many area youths, believed in teaching the kids self-confidence along with boxing, and encouraged them all to do their best in whatever they did in life.  Tobe, Roy and Henry Jr. all excelled in boxing and would achieve great success in competition on the regional, state, national, and world levels. Henry Sr. also trained and cornered Campbell “Wildman” Woodman and he and Henry Jr. trained U.S. Olympian Chuck Walker as well.   

The brothers would initially train and spar with each other, then participate in local, many times Houston, amateur bouts. Boxing was also taught in schools in the area of Cut and Shoot and Conroe during the 40’s and 50’s and local tournaments were plentiful. This no doubt had a positive effect on their boxing education as well. During a conversation this author had with Henry Harris Jr., he said, “Well we fought so much during that time, that we really starting getting good”. The boys became successful and began winning Houston Golden Glove and Texas State Golden Glove Boxing Championships in earnest. The Harris brothers would travel anywhere to compete but spent a great deal of time competing in Houston as amateurs and as professionals. Henry Jr. stated that many Houston area coaches and boxers were also generous in teaching he and his brothers’ things that they were able to use in their careers as boxers and trainers. Among the names mentioned were Benny King, who also served as a cut man and Manager to Roy, who Henry spoke very highly of during our conversation.  

Roy worked as a 4th grade school teacher and oil field worker during his professional career and also served two years with The United States Army. Roy, a well-schooled boxer with excellent footwork and an educated jab turned professional in April of 1955, at The Sam Houston Colosseum, winning by TKO in 3 rounds over Tommie Smith. Seven months later Roy won The Texas State Heavyweight Championship beating Reagan “Buddy” Turman by a 12-round decision. Roy continued his success, ultimately challenging Floyd Patterson in 1958 for The World Heavyweight Championship, losing in the 13th round when his father Henry Harris Sr. told head trainer Bill Gore to stop the bout.Roy was able to score a knockdown on Patterson during the bout and remained competitive throughout the bout until the later rounds. Roy was not at his best that night due to several reasons, one being his not being able to train and spar as he was accustomed to, due to having to spend time away from home due to his service with The United States Army. With that being said, Roy still offered no excuses after losing to Patterson, simply stating, ” I tried my best”. This type of sportsmanship defined Roy’s career and life and he is said to be very proud of his ability to serve others in his positions as a school teacher, member of the armed services, boxing coach, Montgomery County Clerk, and practicing Attorney. Besides the before mentioned Buddy Turman and Floyd Patterson Roy fought many quality opponents in his professional career including Bob Baker, Willie Pastrano, Willie Besmanoff, Charly Norkus, Sonny Liston, and Henry Cooper. His bout with Pastrano in particular is known to be one of the finest displays of pure boxing by both contestants, ever seen in the heavyweight division.   

Henry Harris Jr, also a 4-time Golden Glove Champion fought Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in the National Golden Gloves Tournament in 1960.  He’s trained and worked with many accomplished boxers including Chuck Walker, James “Bubba” Busceme, Mike Williams, and Sherman Griffin. Henry Jr. has been the main coach from the family that has kept the Cut and Shoot boxing legacy alive also training his son Trey Harris and nephews Monte and Robby Lane.  

Trey Harris won The Houston Golden Gloves four years in a row and was State Golden Glove Champion in 1991.Trey also achieved a professional record of 14 wins and zero loses before retiring. Monty Lane and Robby Lane who also won multiple Houston Golden Glove Championships. 

Alfonso Lopez III, another Henry Harris Jr. protege, is not a relative of The Harris Family but he proudly continues the Harris and Cut and Shoot boxing tradition. He is a multiple times Houston and Texas State Golden Glove Champion and is an active professional boxer with a record of 27 wins and 3 loses, winning The Texas State Super Middleweight Championship as well as the WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight Title. Lopez also serves as a boxing and fitness coach at his El Tigre Boxing Academy, as well as a boxing promoter with El Tigre Boxing Promotions. 



Al “Potato Pie” Boulden


Al “Potato Pie” Boulden, was a former boxer and outstanding boxing trainer based out of Houston, Texas.  Potato Pie was from a small country town near Spring, Texas. He trained and/or cornered many outstanding boxers including:

Maurice “Termite” Watkins, Iran Barkley, Lou Saverese, Dwaynea Muhammad, Frank Tate, Vince Bouleware, Everett “Big Foot” Martin, Othal “Choo Choo” Dixon, Tony Tucker, Mike Williams, and Calvin Grove.  

Al was one of the most sought after and knowledgeable coaches in our area and worked out of several gyms, including The Savannah Boxing Gym, Main Street Gym, The H.B.A. Gym, and The P.A.B.A. Boxing Gym.   Al was also a mentor to Bob Spagnola, who has gone on to become very successful in many avenues of boxing including managing, advising, and promoting.  

Bill Gore

Bill Gore and Manny Gonzalez

Bill Gore

Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, Bill Gore will always be remembered as one of the best trainers in boxing history.

Born in Providence, Rhode,Island and initially learning and applying his trade in New York, Bill Gore was nevertheless, a tremendous influence on our local boxing scene.

Gore learned much of his boxing knowledge initially from Benny Leonard, who trained at Stillman’s Gym in New York City. He also earned first class experience training fighters alongside all-time trainer greats such as Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein, Charlie Goldman, Lou Stillman, Chickie Ferrara, Chris Dundee and Angelo Dundee.

In 1940 Gore began a boxing partnership with Lou Viscusi and began training fighters in Hartford, Connecticut as well. Lou Viscusi specialized in managing boxers, and Gore handled the physical conditioning and boxing training. Gore was also responsible for developing Willie Pep into one of the best pure boxers in boxing history as well as guiding him to a world championship. Other boxers Gore developed throughout his career includes, Tony Licata, Joey Archer, Bob Foster, Ezzard Charles, Del Flanagan, Mike McTigue, Melio Bettina, Johnny Cesario, Bobby Woods, Danny Nardico, Charlie Riley and Nick Stato

In the mid to late 1950’s Viscusi decided to move his main operations to Houston, Gore also moved to Houston and began training fighters here. Operating out of a downtown Houston gym, he began influencing some of the most talented boxers in the area including, Kenny Weldon, Manny Gonzalez, Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, Joe “Old Bones” Brown, and Roy Harris.

Gore was given high praise by Manny Gonzalez who was quoted as saying, ” I used to be a wild puncher, a face first fighter, but Bill made me a boxer and this is what I needed”. Joe “Old Bones” Brown, an accomplished and highly skilled boxer before working with Gore gave Gore credit for teaching him how and when to “sit down” on his punches for maximum leverage” which added to his already phenomenal boxing skills, made Brown a dominating force in boxing. Kenny Weldon, who would later become one of the most successful boxing trainers in boxing history, credits Gore with helping him understand the fundamentals as well as the finer aspects of boxing, as well as how to “communicate” boxing to others.

Kenny Weldon, Roy Harris, and several other Gore proteges took what Gore taught them and developed many champions, who in turn developed and continue to develop even more champions. For this reason Mr. Gore’s name will forever be a part of everything that is boxing in Houston, Texas.

Willie Savannah

Mr. Savannah began his boxing journey in the late 70’s at Kenny Weldon’s Galena Park Boxing Academy, learning the boxing trade as he helped out with the boxers. In 1980 he and wife Clara opened The Savannah Boxing Gym and began training and managing boxer Ronnie Shields. Mr. Savannah and wife Clara never looked back and went on to develop one of the most successful amateur boxing programs in the nation. An approach based on the fundamentals of boxing and also a strong emphasis on building respectful, well -mannered young boxers.
There is a long list of boxers from Houston and/or with Houston connections that have been raised in the Savannah Boxing Gym or have trained there at one time or another. Many successful boxers from Savannah Boxing have gone on to become successful trainers as well, helping out at Savannah’s or opening their own gyms.
Just to name a few that have come up through The Savannah Boxing Gym: Ronnie Shields, Derwin Richards, Juan and Jose Diaz, and Hylon Williams Jr. The Charlo brothers and Regis Prograis also got their start at The Savannah Boxing Gym.
A tireless advocate for the underprivileged youth of Houston, Texas, Willie Savannah is truly a Houston boxing legend and icon.

H-Town Legend Melvin Dennis

Began boxing in February of 1969 at The H.O.P.E. Development Center, later named The George Foreman Gym, on Lyons Avenue. By March of 1970 he was the Regional, State, and National Welterweight Golden Gloves Champion. Mr. Dennis also was a member of and toured with the U.S. National Team and competed against some Eastern Bloc countries before turning professional. I’ve mentioned before how Mr. Dennis was a State Champion in the professional ranks, and fought a “murderers row” of contenders and champions, while winning the majority of those contests.
I was able to spend some time asking Mr. Dennis about several topics and he was kind enough to share thoughts on boxing today, his boxing career, and opponents he’s faced in both amateur and profesional ranks.
Below are some of his answers:

Mr. Dennis credits Jimmy Fields and David Carrington, for teaching him most of what he learned about boxing and said he also was able to learn lessons that were very instrumental to his success from Archie “Mongoose” Moore and Joe “Old Bones” Brown.

On boxing today versus boxing in the 70’s:
Mr.Dennis said the difference is that in his day all the best fought each other to prove they were the best, and didn’t let politics get in the way. He also mentioned that in order for a kid to become a champion he would need to “stay in shape and stay fighting” but that it’s hard for them in today’s times because of the politics and business side of boxing taking over.

Wilfred Benitez bout:
Of course I had to ask about his bout with Benitez, that was aired nationally on The Wide World of Sports. Benitez is an International Boxing Hall of Famer with wins over Bruce Curry, Carlos Palomino, Randy Shields, and Roberto Duran. Benitez also may have beaten Sugar Ray Leonard had the referee not stopped the fight in a controversial manner with seconds left in the 15th round.
Mr. Dennis said Benitez was “very slippery” but not the toughest match he’d had, especially since he felt Benitez went into an almost exclusive defensive mode after Dennis hurt him with several body punches.

Toughest amateur opponent:
Raymond “The Pink Panther” Boyd
Mr. Dennis said they fought three times and each time was a heck of a fight. (After interviewing Mr. Dennis I read some information about one of their fights at the Sam Houston Coloseum that nearly started a riot!)

Toughest Professional Opponent:
Chuck “I Come To Fight” Mince
Mr. Dennis said his two fights with Mince were very tough with the two each taking one fight, and fought within a very short time span from each other.
Mr. Dennis said he’s going to be returning to boxing soon to “help out the kids” and is looking forward to seeing old and new friends. He also was kind enough to agree to share a few pointers about the rigors of the professional ranks, to an elite amateur boxer from Houston that is turning professional soon. You will hear more about that at a later time.

Jesse Valdez

A native of Houston, Texas, (Northside) Valdez was an accomplished amateur boxer who won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, as a Welterweight. He started boxing out of The Red Shield Boxing Club in Houston’s Northside and graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1965. A winner of over 200 amateur bouts his accomplishments include:
Texas State Welterweight Champion (Welterweight) 1964, 65, 66, 67, 68,72
U.S.A. National Golden Gloves Champion (Welterweight) 1967, 1972
Pan American Games Bronze Medal Champion (Welterweight) 1967
U.S. Armed Forces Champion (Welterweight) 1970, 1971, 1972. Olympic Bronze Medal Champion 1972