HOUSTON, Texas - I spent last week in the Houston, Texas area visiting family. While there my son Mike and I ventured over to the town of Galena Park.
We visited the gym called the Galena Park Boxing Academy. The owner of the gym is the renowned trainer Kenny Weldon. A chance meeting at a gas station between my son and Kenny led to my hooking up with him. I was planning to fly down to Houston a few weeks after they met. I got Ken's number from my son and called him. He invited us to visit the Academy when I arrived in town.
Kenny Weldon is a friendly, goodhearted individual. At first meeting him you would not guess that he was a former world-rated featherweight. Other then a slightly reshaped nose and the fact that he still looks fit and trim you would be hard pressed to figure out his former occupation. Truth be known, Kenny Weldon has been boxing as long as he can remember. What he has done through his 38 years of training fighters at Galena Park is to pass that storehouse of valuable knowledge onto boxers both young and old.
Mr. Weldon also takes great pride in the city he grew up in and was kind enough to take us on a tour of the town. He took us to an area near the local water tower where some of the most famous boxers of the last two decades did their roadwork. There names were once painted on the outside of the water tower for all visitors to see. Holyfield, Whitaker, Paz and so many others spent time learning lessons at the Academy. Ken also told us how Sam Houston, the Father of Texas, gathered his troops in Galena Park, built a ferry and from there started the march that drove Santa Anna into surrender. In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna gave up Mexico's rights to Texas. Great stuff.
In talking to Ken you see how dedicated he is to the sport and how important he feels it is to teach boxing properly. When young would-be boxers come to the gym they all have to follow a regimented program designed to teach them the basic fundamentals. The gym has been operating for over 38 years, 18 at its current location. While it is a wonderful haven for youths looking to find a direction in their lives, it has also seen an array of champions, contenders and near contenders within its walls. Ken has worked with some of the best, men like Evander Holyfield, Roberto Duran, Vinny Pazienza, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Todd Foster and many of the local Texan standouts: tough guys like Wilfred Scypion, Termite Watkins, James Pipps, Sammy Fuentes and Raul Marquez. It is an impressive list of world-class fistic talent.
Ken is currently working with heavyweight hopeful Sergei Lyakhovich who holds a win over the once highly-touted Dominick Guinn. There was talk of Sergei meeting Wladimir Klitschko in Germany, but due to problems with Sergei leaving the U.S., that bout could not be made. Ken made it clear to me that he would welcome a bout with Wladimir here in the States. He is very confident of a Lyakhovich victory.
The Galena Park Boxing Academy and Youth Center is a nonprofit organization. It is the heart and soul of Ken Weldon, a man who keeps giving to his community and to the sport of boxing. My son and I would like to thank Ken for taking two hours out of his busy schedule to meet with us. It was truly our pleasure.
By Jim Amato