Name: Joey Velez
Alias: Lil' Joey
Birth Name: Joseph Velez
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: 2002-12-07 (Age:77)
Hometown: Renton, Washington, USA
Height: 5′ 6″ / 168cm
Reach: 66″ / 168cm
Boxing Record: click
Manager: Chuck Haines (1948-49), Frankie Palermo (1949, one fight in Philadelphia), Jack Powers (1950)
Trainer: Tiger Jack Fox (1950)
Joey Velez was a popular boxer in the Pacific Northwest during the late 1940s and early 1950s in the Featherweight and Lightweight divisions. He was very popular in Spokane during this time period, becoming the area's most popular boxer, after Tiger Jack Fox had retired.
Velez was inflicted with polio as a child, and could not walk without crutches until the age of nine. He boxed with a withered left leg that was damaged from polio, which had left his left achilles tendon paralyzed. Nonetheless, he was still able to move around the ring effectively, though he had problems moving backwards on the leg. Despite the unsturdiness of his legs, he was considered a tough fighter to knock down.
Velez had a successful amateur career in Seattle, but had to begin his pro career outside of Seattle, because the local ring doctor would not allow him to fight due to his leg injury. Velez rose quickly to main event status boxing out of Spokane, fighting one 4-rounder, 6-rounder, and 8-rounder, before moving to his first ten-rounder, where he battered Spokane Featherweight Joey Dolan in a thrilling one-sided brawl in Spokane in March 1948. It was only after this win, and subsequent wins, that Velez was allowed to make his ring debut in Seattle. (According to the Oct. 2, 1950 Tacoma News Tribune, he had temporarily retired for a year.)
Velez's father was Puerto Rican and his mother was an Alaskan Native. Joey was the older brother of fellow boxer Bob Velez.
Awards and Recognition
- 1948 Inland Empire Athlete of the Year, as voted on by the Spokane Sportswriter's Assocation.
- Tribute by his daughter Jodi: