The sport of boxing requires several ingredients: the fighters, a venue, a commission to oversee the fight, promoters, judges and, of course referees. One of the most outstanding referees is Joe Cortez. A referee for more than 25 years, Joe has seen the best and worst of fight cards. When it comes to the best, he has officiated Oscar De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, George Foreman, and Lennox Lewis just to name a few. When it comes to the worst, they remain forgettable.
Joe was born and raised in New York City in Spanish Harlem, and lived in Puerto Rico for eight years. Like many young men in the neighborhood, Joe and his brother Mike gravitated toward boxing. They were a team in amateur bouts and Golden Gloves tournaments and continued on to compete professionally. Joe stopped fighting because of lack of boxing opportunities at that time.
Boxing has afforded me a spot in the limelight and I intend to use the opportunity to help set a good role model to the youth and minorities and help wherever I can..."
Joe married his wife Sylvia in 1965. He then relocated to Puerto Rico in 1969 with his wife and two daughters; Cindy and Sandy and started onto a 13-year career in the hotel industry. He worked his way up the ranks at the El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico from a Front Desk Clerk to Executive Assistant Manager of the hotel. In 1976 he moved back to New York and worked with the parent company—El San Juan Hotel Corporation as Assistant Casino Operating Manager for all three properties; El San Juan, The Palace, and El Conquistador Hotels. In 1982 he ventured onto an entrepreneurial career, purchasing a Deli in Yonkers, New York. In Yonkers he became involved in the community and gave his support to the Task Force on Crack and many PAL events to encourage kids to stay off drugs by speaking to them at various schools throughout the state. He also sponsored Project Return for youths making a return into the community. From there he developed and implemented a successful community vision outreach program with leading ophthalmologists in New York, New Jersey, Las Vegas, and Chicago to provide those in need in the community with eye care service. He participated in many health fair events along with the Lions Club. He is very active with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and participates at many of their fund raising events.
Upon returning to New York in 1976 Joe became involved as a boxing referee. He spent six months as an amateur referee and was pushed to the professional level by his mentor Pat Mascia. He applied and received his first licence from New York State and applied with then Boxing Commissioner "Jersey" Joe Walcott of New Jersey. He now also holds a licence in the state of Nevada. From there on he has refereed 156 World Title Championship fights in over 11 countries. His dream was to do just one Championship bout.
Joe and Sylvia now live in Las Vegas along with their daughters—Cindy, Sandy, Christine, and grandsons, Ricky and Bryce. His family had a tragic auto accident in California in June 1996 where his daughter Cindy and his wife were injured. The accident caused Cindy serious spinal cord injury and she is now a quadriplegic. Because of Cindy’s fighting spirit and determination to get better, Joe’s focus is now to create awareness to spinal cord injuries. His dream is to raise funds for spinal cord injury research. While Cindy was a patient in Loma Linda University Medical Center Rehabilitation Unit, she received an encouraging phone call from, Christopher Reeve, who was touched by her focus and determination. Joe, Sylvia, their family and friends are committed to help raise funds toward spinal cord injury research, his new project in his life, because Cindy will walk again with God's help.
"Boxing has afforded me a spot in the limelight and I intend to use the opportunity to help set a good role model to the youth and minorities and help wherever I can", Joe replied during a recent interview with a leading magazine. He previously worked with the Clark County School District Police Department on a special federal grant through the Justice Department from Washington, D.C., to help at-risk youth with a boxing program that not only taught boxing, but discipline, self esteem and raised their confidence level. Joe was also a Deputy Constable in the City of North Las Vegas. Joe, considered one of the top referees in the boxing industry is looking forward to growing with the sport.
Joe’s Boxing Career Highlights
1961 and 1962 Spanish Golden Gloves Champion
1960 and 1961 New York Golden Gloves Champion
1961 National Golden Gloves Champion
1961 Eastern Golden Gloves Champion
1971 Last professional fight in La Cancha de Country Club in Puerto Rico With Sal La Chapel of the Dominican Republic
Professional record of 18 wins and 1 loss
Joe's Community Involvement
Joe Cortez is an active or former member of the following community outreach programs.
Hope and Horizon Spinal Cord Research Academy
ASPIRA Boxing Club–Newark, NJ
Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility–Oahu, HI
Battle of the Badges–California Police Youth Charities
Former North Las Vegas Deputy Constable
Hosted a referee seminar for referees in China to promote fighter safety
Has taken part in many charity events worldwide in places like Budapest, Germany, Puerto Rico, and China
Check out my instructional videos for boxing referees: http://www.fairbutfirm.com/archive.html