Started boxing as an amateur in 1949-50 in New Orleans in the CYO program, under the legendary Ernest “Whitey” Esnault. Continued boxing as a middleweight, in the armed services as a Marine and was an Armed Services Champion. After his service in The Marines and boxing later boxing in college as well, Walt retired from boxing and moved to the League City area approximately in 1960-62. In 1965 he started up a boxing club at a boys home in League City, after noticing the boys home had a boxing ring but no boxing program or club, when he went there to deliver some furniture. He coached the boys home boxing club for a couple of years until the home closed down, then started up the League City Boxing Club in 1967. Coached The League City Boxing Club for 15 years, then started up The Clear Lake Boxing Club. Operated The Clear Lake Boxing Club for a while then started up The Bayou City Boxing Club. While operating The Bayou City Boxing Club he trained his boxers out of The Main Street Gym at it’s original location, later at Lee Canalito’s Gym, back at Main Street at it’s current location, then at Steve Slava’s Gym. Walt continued to coach but began delegating more and more of the coaching responsibilities to current Bayou City Boxing Head Coach Victor Rodriguez Sr. around 2008-09. In 2012 he retired from coaching, and moved from Houston to San Antonio, where he still serves as an Official and judge. During his time in the Houston area Walt trained many Champion boxers, he promoted professional boxing in Galveston, served as an Official with The Gulf Association, and also served as Gulf Association President for several years.
I attempted to come up with a complete list of boxers Walt trained or worked with but the number of names is very high and I am sure many names will be left off for now. I encourage all boxing participants to comment on this article and I will add names as you give them to me. After speaking to Walt briefly and getting some input from Vic Rodriguez and Adrian Lopez, here is a preliminary list.
Charlie Small, Ricky Webb, Gilbert Galvan, Felix Cora Sr, Manuel Pena, Paul Nuncio, Aaron Navarro, Guadalupe Martinez, Adrian Lopez, Benjamin Flores, Bobby “El Jefe” Flores, John Paul White, Travis Roach, Darlington Agha, Eugene Hill, Miguel Flores, Johnny Torres, Luis Mendoza, David Martinez, Jacob Espinoza, Victor Rodriguez Jr, and Daniel Ybarra.
I also was able to catch Walt at the tail end of his coaching career as well as my amateur boxing career, and felt I learned more from Walt in a short time than I had learned in all the previous years I participated in boxing. I have always felt that if I had linked up with Walt earlier, I would have been able to accomplish much more, but I am thankful I did get to learn from him and cherish the times I was able to watch him operate at The Lee Canalito Gym, and later have him instruct me in the sweet science at The Slava Boxing Gym. My lessons from Walt did not stop at boxing and I feel I learned more about being a gentleman from him than any other coach before, as well as how to conduct myself as a man in life. These are the things that make Walt Hailey a great man and Coach even more so than his priceless knowledge in boxing in my opinion.