World renowned referee Joe Cortez was one of five living figures inducted into the 2011 class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. An event-filled weekend beginning Thursday, June 9, will come to a fitting close on Sunday, June 12th, with the formal induction ceremonies taking place in Canastota, New York.
Born in Harlem, New York, Cortez had a successful amateur career, winning several local Gold Gloves tournaments in the New York area in the early 1960’s. After a brief 11-fight professional career led to a dead end, Cortez and his wife moved to Puerto Rico, where he would go on to score one last victory in 1970. Cortez pursued other means of earning a living until he returned to the United States in 1976.
After serving 6 months as an amateur referee, Cortez was licensed in the state of New York. He began to serve as the third man in the ring in bigger fights in the early 1980’s. He refereed his first world championship bout in 1982, when Aaron Pryor knocked out Miguel Montilla in 12 rounds to retain his WBA jr. welterweight title.
Cortez has worked as a referee to a number of big, important matches during his career, most notably: Mike Tyson TKO4 Larry Holmes (1988), Riddick Bowe TKO8 Evander Holyfield (1995), Oscar De La Hoya TKO4 Julio Cesar Chavez (1996), Marco Antonio Barrera UD12 Naseem Hamed (2001), and Erik Morales UD12 Manny Pacquiao (2005).
A veteran of over 170 world championship bouts, and with one of the most recognizable (and copyrighted trademark) phrases in the sport; “I’m fair but I’m firm”, Joe Cortez will be immortalized in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
— Tim Harrison