Noe Cruz

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Noe Cruz, who died in March 2005 at age 83, discovered and trained from World Welterweight Champion Carlos Palomino.

From The Los Angles Times, December 1, 1997:

At age 72, Noe Cruz can still be found most days at the Westminster Boxing Club, still working with young fighters, still keeping an eye out for the next hot prospect.

Boxing has been his passion for more than 40 years, but the only real fighting Cruz ever did was as a young Navy recruit. He fought 18 "smokers," informally arranged bouts between servicemen with no official standing. He won a few; lost a few.

Cruz returned home from the Navy to Rio Grande City, a south Texas town near the Mexican border where he grew up working from dawn to dusk on the family farm with his father and grandfather. It was not a place where a career in any professional sport was an option.

Yet Cruz would eventually find success in boxing as a trainer, 30 years after his brief military boxing career ended. He discovered and trained Carlos Palomino in 1968, who went on to become welterweight champion of the world in 1976.

"It's like playing the Lotto," said Cruz, a Fullerton resident. "You can be a trainer all your life and never have a winner. I was lucky."

His luck came after many years of hard work. After moving to California in 1951, Cruz spent 32 years working for a roofing company, volunteering his off-hours to teach boxing to troubled youths at a small Los Angeles community gym. It was his training ground.

"Some of these kids were juvenile delinquents, from the streets. They were in gangs. We didn't have that kind of thing when I was growing up, it was just work," Cruz said. "Boxing gave them discipline, the kind of discipline I had when I was growing up. I grew up in the Depression; everybody worked hard. You had no choice."

After Cruz moved to Orange County, he taught boxing at the newly opened Stanton Athletic Club in 1965. The former club operated out of a vacant church building on Beach Boulevard, created by community leaders to give youths an alternative to gangs. Three years later, 18-year-old Carlos Palomino walked into the gym.

"He was hitting the heavy bag, and I could see that he had a lot of natural ability. He was the kind of guy I'd been looking for. I watched him for about three or four days, and then I asked him if he wanted to box, and he told me, 'Yes.' So we went to work. It was that simple." [1]