By Peter Lim
A pro sparring benefit will be held for the family of late boxer, trainer and gym owner Kenny Weldon on May 12 from 11 am to 5 pm at the Fighter Nation Boxing Gym, 13305 Woodforest Blvd in Houston. Weldon died on April 13 at age 72 after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He is survived by his wife Faye, three children and 10 grandchildren.
Weldon’s pro boxing career spanned from 1968-78 during which he compiled a record of 43-7-1, 19 KOs. But he knew from an early age that his true calling was as a trainer. A year prior to making his pro debut, Weldon founded the Galena Park Boxing Academy where he spent five decades cultivating a parade of professional and amateur champions alongside countless at-risk kids.
Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Hector Camacho, Mike McCallum, Meldrick Taylor, Vinny Paz, Reggie Johnson, Raul Marquez, Livingston Bramble and Siarhei Liakhorvich were among the world titleholders who benefitted from Weldon’s tutelage. Balance and footwork was his forte.
But despite being much sought after by highly-paid professionals for his expertise, Weldon opted to focus his attention on the less-lucrative and -glamorous task of instilling discipline, work ethic, fitness and sportsmanship to underprivileged youths while steering them away from the inner-city scourges of drugs, gangs and violence.
Gilbert Renteria considers it “an honor” to be one of the last boxers to have been trained by Weldon. Renteria first laced on gloves at the Galena Park Boxing Academy when he was four or five years old. In 2013 he won the USA Boxing Nationals.
“Kenny’s the guy who taught me what I know in terms of the fundamentals and the basics. He had the boxing IQ which I’ll say that 95 percent of coaches don’t have,” Renteria said. “It’s hard to find a trainer like Kenny. It’s hard to even get close to that level. In my opinion the guy was probably the best trainer of all time.
“He was a smart guy in terms of making sure you knew how to do things the right way, He was tough in terms of making sure that you were ready and disciplined. And if not, he’d never lie.”
Asked what would come to mind in 20 years if Weldon’s name was mentioned, Renteria simply responded: “Greatness.”
Weldon was a “boxing encyclopedia,” according to fellow Houston trainer Harry Thomas, who knew Weldon since the 1990s.
“He was an experienced coach who placed a lot of emphasis on the fundamentals of boxing,” Thomas said. “He covered all the basis from the psychological aspects, the physical aspects the preparation and dieting.
“His main strength was his ability to motivate boxers to perform to their optimum.”