Curtis Cokes, Hall of Fame Welterweight Boxer, Dies at Age 82

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2020

FILE - In this April 1969 file photo, Curtis Cokes, right, weighs in for his title defense against Cuban-Mexican challenger Jose Napoles in Los Angeles. Cokes, the Hall of Fame welterweight who became Dallas’ first world champion in 1966, has died. He was 82. Erwin “Sparky” Sparks, Cokes’ partner at the Home of Champions gym, told The Dallas Morning News that Cokes died Friday, May 29, 2020, after a week in hospice. (AP Photo, File)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Hall of Fame boxer Curtis Cokes died Friday of heart failure.

He was 82.

Erwin "Sparky" Sparks told  of the Dallas Morning News that Cokes had been in hospice for a week.

Cokes was the world welterweight champion from August 1966 through April 1969, retaining his title on five occasions before losing to Jose Napoles. His reign made him the first world champion in Dallas boxing history.

Known as a deliberate fighter who waited for his opponents to make mistakes, Cokes won 32 of his 62 career victories by decision. 

"The name of the sport is boxing, not fighting," Cokes told the Dallas Morning News in 2013. "You can play football, you can play basketball, but you can't play boxing. It's serious business where you can get hurt every time you step into the ring. It's an art to hit and not be hit."

Cokes finished with a career record of 62-14-4, retiring in 1972 to become a boxing trainer. He and Sparks were partners at the Home of Champions gym in Dallas.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame inducted Cokes in 2003. 

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