Curtis Cooke, Hall of Fame welterweight champion, dies at 82

Sports

FILE – In this April 1969 file photo, welterweight boxer Curtis Cokes trains for his fight against Joe 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)

DALLAS (AP) — Curtis 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 after a week in hospice.

Cokes took the World Boxing Association welterweight title in 1966 belt with a unanimous decision over Manny Gonzalez in New Orleans and added the World Boxing Council crown three months later with a unanimous decision over Jean Josselin at Dallas’ Memorial Auditorium.

Cokes lost the titles to Jose Napoles in 1969 at the Forum outside Los Angeles, and dropped a rematch soon after in Mexico City.

Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003, the 5-foot-8 Cokes fought 80 times from 1958 to 1972, finishing 62-14-4 with 30 knockouts. He later trained fighters at his gym.

Cokes starred in basketball and baseball at Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School.

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