10 round heavyweight bout between “Big” George Foreman and Everett “Bigfoot” Martin, both from Houston, Texas. Martin fought out of Savannah Boxing Gym at the time and had Willie Savannah as well as Creed Fountain in his corner.
In a recent personal conversation with Everett “Bigfoot” Martin, he suggested that I focus more of my time and energy on the young fighters in Houston who may have not had the chance to achieve some of the things he and other Houston “OG’s” have, but are out there trying to represent Houston. I agreed wholeheartedly, thanked “Big Foot” and he finished the conversation by telling me, “Lou, those young guys need the recognition and attention more than us old guys do, we had our time, it’s their turn to shine.”
With respect to “Bigfoot” here is the first of this form of article I’m calling “Fighter Profiles”, introducing a young man with a very inspiring story, local super-middleweight Alex Morales.
Lucky Lou: Alex how did you get started in boxing and where did you get your start?
Alex Morales: I got my start at Mena’s Boxing Club with Coach Howard Mena. I need to back up a little though and explain the circumstances. I have known Coach Howard for many years as a family friend but up until about three years ago, I hadn’t seen him in a long time. He contacted me out of the blue one day and told me he had just opened up a boxing gym near the area where I lived and asked if I would come help him build the gym. I helped him put everything together in the gym and after we were done, he said he wanted to train me in boxing. I was 25 years old, badly out of shape [about 250 pounds], had a poor diet, smoked cigarettes, and didn’t drink anything but cokes.
LL: So I assume you weren’t very enthusiastic about starting up in boxing at the time?
AM: No sir, I resisted, told him I thought I was too old to start and didn’t initially listen when he said I could be a boxer. I think I may have even told him, “You’re crazy old man, it’s too late for me to start”.
LL: What changed your outlook?
AM: Well Coach Howard is a stubborn man and he kept insisting so I eventually gave in and went to his gym.
LL: Was it hard at first?
AM: Yes very hard, I went there thinking I was going to punch bags and what not, but before I could punch even one bag coach Howard made me work on something he called “The Line” which is just what it’s called, a line, taped to the floor that is used to perform a series of balance exercises. With me being overweight at the time and not used to these type of exercises, “The Line” was tough and to make it worse it’s almost the only thing I did for about a month because that’s what Coach Howard said I needed work on! So during that time I met the other two coaches there, Joe Rodriguez and Ricky Stoner, and I started to become addicted to the workout, especially once I was able to do more than just the line exercises!
Although I was getting in shape I would still get discouraged and “quit” for a couple of days here and there, but I always came back.Slowly my weight started dropping and my conditioning began to become the conditioning of a boxer, meaning soon I would be ready to begin sparring.
LL: The fun part, right?
AM: I went into it with no fear and I sparred whoever was available, because by this time I had been bitten by the boxing bug and knew this was something I wanted to do. So many times I was sparring with professional boxers from the area and from Mexico, and took my fair share of butt whuppings, but it built mental toughness and endurance. No matter how bad it looked at times, the old man [Howard] kept telling me that I was going to be a world champ one day and I started to believe it was possible.
About a year and a half into my training I was ready for my first amateur fight, which was going to be held in Pasadena, at The Dynasty Boxing Promotions Gym. A funny thing happened before my first bout though.
I was busy working at a plant and training for my first amateur fight when I started talking to my foreman one day about my upcoming match. I didn’t know my foreman personally but we started talking and he asked me when and where I was going to fight. I told him at The Dynasty Boxing Promotions Show and he immediately laughed and said, “No you’re not”. I was a bit confused and he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, read it and said my name wasn’t on the sheet. You see my foreman ended up being Jesse Morales, Owner/Operator of Dynasty Promotions Boxing Gym! I had been training to fight at his show but had not been matched up yet, which is why my name wasn’t on the bout sheet! Luckily I was able to get matched and I did fight, and win at that show, which was the beginning of my boxing career.
LL: You mentioned earlier that you have only been in boxing for about three years, and with two professional wins already under your belt, your amateur career must have been pretty short?
AM: Yes I had two amateur fights fighting under the Mena’s Boxing Club banner and I ended up training and fighting out of Dynasty Promotions Boxing Gym, under the instruction of Jesse Morales for my last three amateur fights. When I left the amateur ranks I had a 4-1 record. My last amateur bout was my proudest moment in the ring so far because my opponent was really good, and tough, he was left handed, and I came into that bout with nothing physically because of a bad weight cut. My opponent was actually maybe the better boxer that night, but I was determined to stop him inside the distance,and going on mostly pure determination, I was able to stop him and get the win. Once I got that last amateur bout in, my Coach Jesse Morales told me I was ready for my first professional bout. Although I was now training full time at The Dynasty Promotions Boxing Gym, I brought in Howard Mena and Joe Rodriguez to help me prepare for my first pro fight, because I knew I needed their help as well, and I wanted them in my corner.
LL: This obviously worked well because you got that first win along with another win since then, leaving you with a 2-0 with 2 KO’s record at this time correct?
AM: Definetly! With Jesse Morales, Howard Mena, and Joe Rodriguez in my corner, I won my first pro fight with a tremendous, one-punch knockout in 43 seconds! My second pro bout was a little tougher because my opponent had an iron chin and was trying his best to win, but I still was able to stop him in the fourth round.
LL: Well Alex it’s been nice getting to know you better and your story is a very inspiring and motivating one for anyone out there that may be out of shape and headed to a road of bad health. You were able to not only leave behind some bad habits and lose weight, you got yourself into fighting condition, which is something very few people can do, with the great demands that boxing makes on a persons mind, body and soul. Is there anything you want to say in parting?
AM: Yes, I want to thank Howard, Joe, and Ricky at Mena’s Boxing, along with Jesse Morales at Dynasty Boxing, for everything that I have learned from them and all the hard work they have put into me. I give it my all everyday because my coaches have always given me their all. I’m still working to perfect my diet and conditioning routine and I believe I can compete as a middleweight in the future. I know I have a long way to go and a lot to learn but I live life one day at a time and I know that I will be a Champion one day! This is my story, Alex Morales super-middleweight, soon to be middleweight boxer and future world champion.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Everett “Big Foot” Martin faced a virtual who’s who of boxing in the heavyweight division, in a professional career that spanned from 1984 to 2001. Bigfoot also may hold the all-time record for most heavyweight world champions faced, having faced 16 in his professional career, at one point facing 9 in a row!
He began his professional career as a light-heavyweight and cruiser-weight but competed as a heavyweight for most of his career, even though he was relatively small in stature for that division. Although he gave up size for most of his career and faced a murderer’s row of opposition, he was never knocked out and would only be stopped by T.K.O. several times during the tail-end of his career when he was already “tired and worn”.
“Big Foot” was a journeyman that would fight anyone, anywhere, many times with no training camp and on short notice, but still managed to always be competitive, and give the boxing fans an entertaining fight win, lose, or draw. He also held Olympic Champion Chuck Walker to a draw, beat Jesse Selby, Sherman Griffin, “Smoking” Bert Cooper, and Tim Witherspoon by decision, along with knocking down Micheal Moorer.
In an amazing professional career that took him all over the world, he faced many top contenders and champions including:
Jesse Shelby, Sherman Griffin, Olympic Champion Chuck Walker, Kevin Kelly, Vincent Boulware, Tony Willis, Bert Cooper, Johnny Du Plooy, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, George Foreman, Gary Mason, Pierre Coetzer, Francesco Damaini, Micheal Moorer, Riddick Bowe, Tim Witherspoon, Tony Tucker, Larry Holmes, Herbie Hide, Tony Tubbs, Lance Whitaker, Wladimir Klitschko, Danell Nicholson, Lamon Brewster, Fres Oquendo, Joe Hipp,James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Obed Sullivan, David Bostice, Siarhei Liakhovich, and Ruslan Chagaev!
Originally from Fifth Ward, he would later move to Houston’s South Park neighborhood, where he began learning to box first from his mother Mary Martin, who he described as a “tough, street fighting woman” and “Big Al” Alfred Leon Willis, who taught and trained neighborhood boys to box in parks, back yards, and anywhere in the neighborhood, especially in the courtyard of The Villa Americana Apartments. “Big Foot” said that “Big Al” and his mother taught him everything he needed to know in boxing and although he would work with other coaches in his professional career, he would always depend on what he learned from his mother and “Big Al” to get him through anything, along with his faith in God.
A big kid in his youth with a good heart, “Big Foot” hated to see smaller, weaker kids getting bullied in school and would defend them by telling their tormentors, “Hey man, what are you picking on him for, he’s just here doing what he has to do, just like you”. This would inevitably lead to fights with those same bullies and though he didn’t like fighting, backing down wasn’t an option on the streets of South Park and Fifth Ward. After getting in trouble at school for fighting but not necessarily at home since he was fighting to protect those being bullied, his mother decided he needed to box to keep him out of trouble and off the streets. This was when she brought him to “Big Al” Alfred Leon Willis to introduce him to amateur boxing.
“Big Foot” stated he didn’t like boxing initially but eventually became very good at it, partly because “Big Al’s Boxing Club” sparred in the Villa Americana Apartments courtyard and he “Didn’t want to look weak in front of all the homeboys”. He also said that once he started becoming proficient in boxing he began to see boxing as a way he could eventually take care of his family, which was a strong motivation for him. This outlook served “Big Foot” well as he became an elite amateur boxer, winning The Houston Golden Gloves, Open Division, Heavyweight Championship in 1981, 1982, and 1983.
I asked “Big Foot” what skills he learned from “Big Al” that enabled him to become known as one of the toughest, most fearless boxers to ever grace the ring and he said, “He first taught me how to stand correctly and on balance, then how to move in and out and side to side, to be in condition, how to remain calm in the ring, protect myself, control my breathing and punches, and to make my opponent fight how I wanted him to fight, not how he wanted to fight”
I met “Big Foot” only once before calling him today for a phone interview and I must add that he was very gracious about sharing information about his life in and out of boxing. Our interview eventually became more of a private conversation and as a lifelong participant, coach, and fan of boxing I asked him many questions as much as for my personal interests as for this article. One of the main things that intrigued me was how he was able to be competitive against all the contenders and champions he faced over the years without ever being knocked out or seriously injured. “Big Foot’s” response was simple and direct.
“The only reason to be scared of those guys would have been if they were able to hit me and hurt me and I wasn’t about to stand there and let them hit me without moving around and hitting them back, that’s why it’s called BOXING”.