With Jimmy Montoya in NYC
Jimmy Montoya really burst onto the boxing scene from out of nowhere in 1977. He soon was booking more than fifty fighters, mostly from Mexico, all over the world. He had a guy drive a van full of fighters all over the west coast, filling out cards whenever and wherever there was a need. Thus, the van became known as “The Meat Wagon.”
Jimmy was not an especially good boxing teacher, probably because he didn’t have any boxing experience, but he was an excellent conditioner. He had gotten into boxing through a brother who was managing their cousin, Rudy Robles. The brother got in hot water and had to go to jail for a few years. He turned Robles over to Jimmy, and like they say, the rest is history.
In the winter of 1982, I went with my sons Frankie and Tony to New York City for a meeting with Don King; Jimmy Montoya was also there. After we had been there for about four days, Jimmy and I were dying for some Mexican food, so we went out to find some. While walking down 8th Avenue we saw a place with a big sign: “Mexican Food-Burritos.” We walked in and some Puerto Ricans were running the joint. We turned right around and walked out.
We walked another block until we saw an Italian place. We decided to go in and have some spaghetti and meatballs. As we’re sitting waiting for our food, we could hear voices coming from the back of the place. I got up and walked to the back to check it out.
“Just some guys shooting pool,” I said to Jimmy.
While we were eating Jimmy asked me if I had any money on me.
“I got some. Why?”
“Lend me forty bucks,” he said.
When we finished eating we went back to where the guys were shooting pool. Jimmy asked if he could play.
“Sure, but we play for money.”
“That’s okay” said Jimmy.
After two or three games Jimmy was down to his last ten dollars. He puts the ten bucks on one last game. He won the game.
“I want a rematch,” the guy tells Jimmy.
“Sure,” Jimmy said. Jimmy beats him again. Two more games and the dude was broke.
Another guy played Jimmy, and after a few games Jimmy broke him, too.
Then the first guy Jimmy played got on the phone. Twenty minutes or so later a guy walked in with a stick in a real fancy case. He got it on with Jimmy, and while Jimmy was playing this guy, the first one was getting drunk.
Jimmy broke this one, too. By this time the first guy was so stinking drunk that he could barely stand up, but he staggered up to Jimmy and said, “You’re good, but you drink too fucking much.”
Jimmy won eight hundred bucks. Since he played and won with my forty dollars, I got four hundred bucks.
We were in New York City for a Don King press-conference. It was to be held in a very fancy hotel. Men’s attire was suit and tie. As Jimmy and I were walking back to our hotel, he told me that he didn’t bring a suit.
“Well. Jimmy, you just won four hundred bucks. Buy one.”
“Hey! I can do that; let’s find a Men’s store.”
We found one on 42nd Street. Jimmy looked at some suits and settled on a bluish one, if I remember right. The pants legs were altered in no time and Jimmy had a new suit.
After getting all dressed up the following day in suits, ties, and, since it was a cold February afternoon, also in overcoats, we left to walk to the press conference.
After a short walk in the snow we arrived at the classy hotel. We walked into a big ballroom where the press conference was to be held. We soon met Don King and he introduced us to actress/singer Eartha Kitt, actor/dancer Gregory Hines, singer James Brown, and political activist Al Sharpton.
We slipped out of our overcoats and found our table. We had been sitting for about twenty minutes when I happened to look at Jimmy’s suit sleeve; I leaned over and whispered in his ear: “Jimmy, look at your sleeve.” Jimmy looked at his left sleeve and right away he put his arm under the table and started pulling off the price tag. Guess he didn’t want any of the high rollers to know he bought his suit “off the rack.”
Frank “kiki” Baltazar is a retired boxing manager and trainer and a member of the California Boxing Hall of Fame. More of his writing can be found at From Bricks and Rosin: Stories by Frank “kiki'”Baltazar.