Hall of Fame boxer Curtis Cokes — the first world champion to hail from Dallas — has died at the age of 82.
Cokes died Friday of heart failure after he spent a week in hospice care. Erwin “Sparky” Sparks, Cokes’ partner at Dallas’ Home of Champions gym, informed the Dallas Morning News of Cokes’ death.
Cokes was born June 15, 1937, in Dallas and boxed from 1958 to 1972. He held the welterweight title belt from 1966 to 1969, during which time he moved into the top 10 of the welterweight world rankings (1961).
Cokes won the vacant Texas welterweight title belt in 1965 and claimed the WBA title in 1966. He retained the WBA title and won the vacant WBC belt after a win against Jean Josselin on Nov. 28, 1966, in Dallas. He lost the title after he was knocked out by Hall of Famer Jose Napoles in 1969 and lost a rematch two months later. He never had another chance to claim a world championship.
Cokes retired with a record of 62-14-4 and went on to become a trainer in Dallas, where he worked with former middleweight title holder Quincy Taylor and several heavyweight contenders.
Cokes was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.