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!  



Roy “Cut and Shoot” Harris

cut and shoot texas, cut n shoot boxing, cut and shoot boxing,


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. 



Houston Golden Gloves

The Houston Golden Gloves Tournament has historically been known as one of the toughest amateur boxing tournaments in the nation. More than once Houston boxers have said that getting out of our own hometown Golden Gloves can be harder than winning the state and national Golden Gloves tournaments. Many of our regional Champions have gone on to very successful professional careers including Roy Harris, Dave Zyglewics, Manuel Ramos, James “Bubba” Busceme, Johnny Boudreux, Mark Tessman, Kenny Weldon, Maurice “Termite” Watkins, Wilford Scypion, Ronnie Shields, Thomas Tate, Raul Marquez, Rocky Juarez, Juan Diaz, Benjamin Flores, Miguel Flores, Lee Canalito, Ron Collins, Melvin Dennis, Louis Wood, Alfonso Lopez, Reggie Johnson, Warren Williams, Derwin Richards, The Charlo Brothers, Omar Henry, Ricky Stoner, Joe Garcia, Eric Griffin, Hylon Williams, Adrian Lopez, Guadalupe Martinez, David Donis, and many more.

Many Houston Golden Gloves Champions and competitors that never went professional or had short professional careers are legends in their own right, some considered to be better skilled than some of the professional champions we’ve had. Some names mentioned from the recent past include, Daniel Ybarra, Victor Rodriguez, Darlington Agha, The Manriquez Brothers, Eleazar Renteria, Gerardo Ibarra, Billy “Third Ward” Willis, Joshua Garza, and Fred Allen. When speaking to some of the legends of Houston boxing, some names they have mentioned include, Gilbert Garcia, Henry Harris Jr, Frank Garza, Jesse Valdez, Joe Louis Valdez, Barry Yeats, David Martinez, Raymond Boyd, Oscar Trevino, Ricky Webb, Anthony Wiley, Greg Brennan, Jaime Lopez and many more. Frank Garza, Oscar Trevino, and David Martinez, were names I’ve heard mentioned most when asking about the amateur legends, with Jesse Valdez unanimously named as best boxer who ever competed in the Houston Golden Gloves Championships.

We’ve also had countless state and national champions from our region as well as several Olympic Champions and competitors. Kenny Weldon alone produced 51 state champions and 26 national champs, along with 3 pan-am medalists and three Olympians. Gulf LBC boxers have always held many spots in the USA boxing, national rankings historically and presently our boxers dominate the national rankings. Just to name a few currently nationally ranked, Houston boxers: Gilbert Renteria, Alex Donis, Rafael “Tiger” Medina, Jemiah Richards, Quinton Randall, Austin Williams, Virgina Fuchs and Carmen Vargas. Recently turned professional Marlen Esparza also is a former Houston Golden Glove boxer.

It is a statement on the strength and depth of our boxing pedigree in Houston, Texas that of the many names mentioned, there are still many not mentioned due to the enormous amount of quality boxers we’ve produced. Feel free to comment with additional names who may not have been mentioned here, that were known as tough competitors in the Houston Golden Gloves.

2018 Houston Golden Gloves, Open Division Champions:

Female 125 pounds out of Baby Bull Gym— Carmen Vargas

Male 108 pounds, out of Wings like Eagles — Ephraim Bui

Male 114 pounds, out of Woods Boxing— John Atiles

Male 123 pounds, out of Wings like Eagles— Martell Washpun

Male 132 pounds, out of Perez Boxing— Oscar Perez

Male 141 pounds, out of Marquez Boxing —Rodolfo Pena

Male 152 pounds, out of Donis Boxing— Alex Donis

Male 165 pounds, out of Main Street Boxing—Austin Williams

Male 178 pounds, out of Savannah Boxing— Kenneth Carter

Male 201 pounds, out of O’Athletic— Darius Fulgham

Male 201+ pounds, out of Main Street Gym— Albert Okopie

Raymond “Pink Panther” Boyd

1970 Welterweight

Raymond “Pink Panther” Boyd

Raymond Boyd had a storied and solid career in both the amateur and professional ranks. His professional career spanned from 1970 to 1982, and he finished with a record of 27 wins with 22 knockouts, and 9 losses. A former stablemate of Kenny Weldon and Manny Gonzalez, Mr. Boyd’s name is mentioned often by the local pioneers of professional boxing when the subject of tough competitors is brought up.

Born in New Orleans, Mr. Boyd spent his youth in Edna, Texas and would ultimately reside in and box out of Houston, Texas. Also known as “Sweet” Raymond Boyd, Mr. Boyd embodied the Houston and the Texas, “rumble ready” spirit. Though Mr. Boyd was an educated boxer, he kept a “street fighting” element to his approach that led to entertaining and memorable bouts. Former national amateur champion and Texas State Middleweight Champion, Melvin Dennis, described Mr. Boyd as his toughest amateur opponent, stating that every one of their three bouts were “dogfights”.

As if his tough approach to boxing and his entertaining bouts weren’t enough, Mr. Boyd also brought a “pro wrestling” entertainment aspect to boxing by wearing pink trunks, robes, and socks, as well as screaming a “war cry” of sorts as he was walking to and into the ring. Pink Panther also was known to “trash talk” before, during, and after bouts, as well as use moves such as the “head lock” during his bouts. There have also been reports of Pink Panther Boyd blowing kisses to attractive females in the crowd as well as professing his handsomeness to anyone who would listen. Maybe Mr. Boyd was influenced by the Houston Wrestling bouts that were popular at the time and held in the same Sam Houston Coliseum as Mr. Boyd fought many of his amateur and professional bouts. Raymond “Pink Panther” Boyd certainly left a lasting impression on his local peers and stories of his bouts as well as his antics, are Houston area boxing legend.

Chuck Mince

Chuck Mince

Chuck “I Come to Fight” Mince, was born in New Orleans and can trace his boxing expertise lineage back to the famed New Orleans trainer Whitey Esneault, who trained Chuck’s uncle Jerome Conforto. Jerome, managed by his brother Al Conforto, and trained by Whitey, was an accomplished amateur and professional, once even fighting for the World Welterweight title that was vacated by Barney Ross. Jerome would also start what became the Conforto/Mince/Collinsworth fighting family boxing tradition when he taught Chuck ” I Come to Fight” Mince boxing and trained him throughout his career.

Chuck Mince was very successful in both amateur and professional ranks with the guidance and tutelage of his uncle Jerome. He was the Welterweight Louisiana State Golden Gloves, Open Division Champion four times and also participated in many amateur bouts in Texas, after finding bouts hard to come by in Louisiana. This would begin a lifelong connection to boxing in Texas with other notable accomplishments being beating Kenny Weldon in an Open Division amateur bout, splitting a pair of professional bouts with Melvin Dennis, defeating Charlie Smalls, and also defeating Willie Warren twice.

Chuck’s professional career lasted from 1968 until his final bout in April of 1979. Chuck’s final bout was held at the New Orleans Superdome, on the undercard of the WBA Light Heavyweight Championship bout Galindez vs Rossman. After retiring from competition Chuck began training fighters, including several younger generations of the fighting Conforto/ Mince/Collinsworth family, including his sons Chuck “Bad Boy” Mince, (10-0) as a professional, and “Marvelous” James Mince, (8-1) as a professional. “Marvelous” James was also a finalist on Oscar Delahoya’s ” Next Great Champ” reality television show.

“I Come to Fight” Mince continues to be connected to Texas as his nephew Derek Collinsworth is currently a trainer in Houston, Texas. One of Derek’s proteges, Quintin Randall, is currently the number 1 ranked boxer in the nation at 152 pounds, and fights on the U.S.A. Boxing Team internationally. Mince was also mentioned as the toughest professional opponent of Houston boxing legend, Melvin Dennis, who stated, “He wasn’t lying about his fight name, he really did “Come to Fight”!

H-Town Legend Melvin Dennis

A Few Facts with
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


Kenny Weldon

Pan-Am Games

Kenny Weldon started boxing as an amateur in Houston in 1953. A native of Galena Park, Texas, Kenny had more than 200 amateur bouts 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. The program he established at The Galena Park Boxing Academy produced more than two dozen national amateur champions, and three Olympians. Kenny also served as a coach for The U.S. Olympic Team in 1988.
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.,

Houston, Texas, Boxing Hotbed

Houston, Texas has always been a hotbed for boxing and the tradition continues in 2018. Dominance in the ring as well as technical expertise was a calling card for the twin Charlo brothers in 2017. We also had Marlen Esparza dominating in the pro ranks, along with amateur rival Virginia Fuchs, dominating the National and International women’s amateur scene. Local amateur Quintin “Quickdraw” Randall also dominated the amateur National and International scenes in the Elite, Men’s Division, holding a number 1 ranking in the nation at 152 pounds.

All in all boxing is alive and well in Houston, Texas and with our current crop of killers, it looks like 2018 is going to be a fun year in “Clutch City”!