This official Houston Post photo, dated March 8, 2022 is captioned as follows: The 10 Houston Regional Golden Gloves Champions and their two coaches get together before heading for the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Fort Worth. Back row, from left, are Jesse Montemayor, 112 pound division; Clayton Wright, 118; Bill Armstrong, 124; Donald Sayles, 132; Front row, from left, are Rev. Ray Martin, coach; Terrance Garrick, heavyweight; Anthony Wiley, 139; Oscar Trevino, 147; Deryl Brumley, 154; Frankie King, 165; Robert Moore, 175; and Kenny Weldon, coach. The team leaves Tuesday Houston Post photo: Bill Thompson
Although he never competed as a professional, 1972 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Jesse Valdez is considered one of the best, if not the best boxer to have ever been born and raised in Houston, Texas.
A classical boxer with power in both hands, who could fight going forward or backward as well as counter-punch, Valdez started his amateur boxing career at The Red Shield Boxing Club in Houston’s Northside, under coaches Moses Vaquera and Charlie Court.
According to Valdez he decided at about the age of 14 or 15 that he would try to make it to the Olympics, but would never turn pro. When asked what would lead him to that decision at 14, he stated:
“When I was 14 or 15 there were pros training at the gym I went to after school. There was one professional boxer there I really liked and looked up to. He was a world champion, (who I won’t name) and I used to like to watch him work out. I’ll never forget, one day he asked me if he could borrow $1.00. I was a kid who didn’t have a nickel to his name at the time and that really opened my eyes. Here was a world champion asking me for money. It stuck in my mind.”Jesse Valdez
Sammy was a Houston Golden Gloves Champion in the Open Division in 1978, as a Light-Flyweight, in 1979 as a Flyweight, in 1980 as a Flyweight, and in 1981 as a Bantamweight.
Sammy also boxed as a professional, compiling an excellent record of 15 wins with 3 of those wins coming by knockout, against only 1 loss and 1 draw.
As a professional Johnny was known for his extraordinary boxing skills and hand speed, compiling a professional record of 21 wins with 7 by knockout, against only 5 loses and 1 draw.
Johnny was a Texas State and Louisiana State Champion at Heavyweight as a professional and fought many tough boxers including Scrap Iron Johnson, Stan Ward, Roy Wallace, Tony Doyle, Charles Atlas, Randy Stephens, Gerrie Coetzee, and John Tate. Johnny is a name often mentioned when speaking to the old timers of boxing in Houston, and he’s known as a guy who was “Very hard to beat” in his prime as a boxer.
Oscar started his boxing and martial arts studies in 1965 at The Variety Boys Club in Houston’s East End, with coaches Joel Delgado and Jack Ramos. He would begin his competitive amateur career there, starting off in the 115 pound division. After The Variety Boys Club closed down, Oscar went to the famous Magnolia Barrio Y.W.C.A. where he began studying under and competing for Coach Santos Montemayor and Johnny Severson. By this time, Oscar and several of his Magnolia “Y” team mates were some of the best amateurs in the nation, winning many Houston and Texas State Golden Gloves, along with several National Golden Gloves Titles. In 1975, The Magnolia “Y” shut down and Oscar went to Kenny Weldon’s Gym, taking Sammy “Bumble Bee” Fuentes with him, again always seeking to test his limits and raise his game to the highest levels by seeking the best coaching and competition he could find. Oscar said his toughest opponents as an amateur boxer were David Martinez Jr, James “Bubba” Buscheme, and Byron Payton.
Oscar successfully competed in boxing and martial arts at different points and at times simultaneously. He won The Houston Golden Gloves as an open division competitor five times at a time when the Houston Golden Gloves was a very big event in town, being held at The Sam Houston Coliseum. This would be the equivalent of having The Houston Golden Gloves at The Toyota Center in today’s times! Oscar also competed as a professional kick-boxer, winning 19 fights by knockout, and also becoming the P.K.A. North American Light-Weight Champion in 1976.
Oscar continues to stay in shape to this day, and is a deeply spiritual and God fearing man. Oscar attributes part of his deep religious beliefs to a bad decision that went against him in The Texas State Golden Gloves Championships in 1980, against a young Byron Payton from Troupe, Texas. After their bout Byron was invited to join The U.S. National Boxing Team in a tournament that was to be held in Poland, with the winners essentially assured of an opportunity to compete in The Olympic Trials. The team’s plane never made it to their destination, crashing a half mile from an airport in Warsaw, Poland, killing every member of The U.S. boxing team, and 65 Polish citizens.
As Oscar related the story to me he stated, “A bad decision saved my life”.
Houston Golden Gloves
120 pound Junior Champion 1961
Welterweight Novice Champion 1962
Light Heavyweight Open Champion 1964, 1965, and 1966.
Mark was also a two-time Texas State Golden Gloves Champion.
Charlie Court, always looking out for his boxer’s best interest, then suggested Mark begin training at Hugh Benbow’s A&B Gym, where he could get sparring with professional boxers as he began preparing himself for a professional career. Mark would ultimately turn pro and he achieved a professional career record of 44 wins and 4 loses, his professional career highlight being a losing attempt at The World Light-Heavyweight Title against Bob Foster. Mark was said to be putting on an excellent boxing display that night, before getting caught with a hard punch and losing by knockout.
Mark would briefly retire before making a ring return with mixed results, as he seemed to change his smooth, technical boxing style into more of a boxer-puncher style, which led to him getting hit more than he did before the style change. After Mark lost a particularly bad decision which he should have won, Charlie Court then asked Mark to retire, not wanting to see Mark being used as an “opponent” to build other fighter’s records. Charlie Court felt soo strongly about his suggestion that he told Mark that if he agreed to retire, that Charlie would do the same. They both agreed and shook hands on the agreement, neither ever returning to boxing. Mark was just 26 years old and Charlie only 38 years old.
Jesse’s accomplishments in The Houston Golden Gloves and beyond are as follows.
Houston Golden Gloves Championships
1961 Junior Champion 100 lbs
1962 Novice Champion Bantamweight
1963 Open Champion Lightweight
1964 Open Champion Welterweight
1965 Open Champion Welterweight
1966 Open Champion Welterweight
1967 Open Champion Light Middleweight
1968 Open Champion Light Middleweight
Winner of The Elby Pettaway Outstanding Boxer Award in 1964, 1965, 1966, and 1968.
Texas State Golden Gloves Champion in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1972
U.S.A. National Golden Gloves Champion in 1967 and 1972
Pan-American Games Bronze Medal Champion 1967
U.S. Armed Forces Champion 1970, 1971, and 1972
Olympic Bronze Medal Champion 1972