Joe Elsby Martin
Joe Elsby Martin (February 1, 1916 - September 14, 1996) was a boxing coach and police officer from Louisville, Kentucky.
Martin was Muhammad Ali's first boxing coach. The story of Ali and Martin is legend.
In 1954, a 12-year-old Muhammad Ali — then Cassius Clay — had his bicycle stolen, and he reported the crime to Martin. When Ali said he wanted to beat up the person who stole his bike, Martin told him he should probably learn to fight first. A few days later, Ali began training at Martin's gym.
It was 1938 when Martin became a boxing coach at the Columbia gym at the old Louisville Service Club at Fourth and York streets. The gym was run by the Louisville Park Department to help keep children off the streets.
One of Martin's first acts was to combine the segregated black and white gyms. "A boxer has to fight everybody to prove he is a champion," he would say.
Martin helped produce a local TV show — "Tomorrow's Champions" — that was broadcast every Saturday night for 12 years. It featured matches of Kentucky amateur boxers, and it was Ali's first television exposure.
In 1960, Martin was a coach for the U.S. Olympic boxing team in Rome, where Ali won the light heavyweight gold medal.
Martin held the Kentucky Golden Gloves franchise for almost 40 years and served for a time as the Kentucky representative on the organization's national board.
In 1977, Martin was inducted into the Amateur Boxing Hall of Fame.