Top Amateur Tim Dement Was a Member of the 1972 Olympic Team
By: Ken Hissner
As Tim Dement tells the story, I was 12 when his older brother Steve got arrested with a group of other teenagers for fighting in the streets. After going to court my father asked Steve what it was going to take to keep him out of trouble? Steve answered “I just like to fight!” So my father heard about Irish McNeels Sports for Boxing Boy’s Club and brought Steve there to do his fighting in the ring instead of the streets.
I just tagged along with my brother and learned to box just watching others and listening to out Coach teaching the basics about straight punching. Coach J S “Irish” McNeel who we called “Mr. Mac” was something special, an Old School Boxer who never had an amateur fight. He began boxing professional during the depression and literally boxed to put food on the table. Mr. Mac had a positive impact on thousands and his motto was “if I can help one boy become a good man then I have been paid in full my friend!”
I wanted to make Mr. Mac proud of me and become a good boxer. I trained for a full year before I had my first bout at 85 pounds (Paperweight Division) and lost. In 1971 at 16 years of age I was old enough to fight in the Open Division which meant I would be fighting adults. I won the Southern AAU tournament and went to the National’s in New Orleans at 106 and fought four times in three days losing in the finals to Gary Griffin of New Orleans.
About a month later I was invited to participate in the Pan Am Trials at Ft. Bragg, NC. I never understood why I was invited at 16, and then winning in the finals over Griffin was told I had to be 17 to go to the Pan Am Games. However I was allowed to go train with the Pan Am team then go on tour with the USA Boxing Team to compete in Poland, the England and Germany. 1971 was a good year for me. I beat two Polish champions and one being 31 years old. Both of those were televised in Poland and for the time they treated me like a Rock Star.
Our team toured the concentration camp and became shockingly aware of the Cruelty of Mankind and the freedoms we take for granted. The USA Boxing Team then went to London against the British and there I was told I was too young to box and my British opponent was 21. Then we went to Germany but they didn’t have a light flyweight for me to fight. Later that year in 1971 I was invited to box with the USA Team against the Romanian team at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI. Mr. Mac got to go with me and I won my fight and I was very happy about my first year in boxing in the Open Division. I was first runner-up at the National AAU, won the Pan Am Trials and won my first three International bouts.
In 1972 I fought two times in the Soviet Union losing both by decision then fought in every tournament I could trying to qualify for the 1972 Olympic Trials. I started out at 106 pounds and 5:10 tall lost to Davey Armstrong at the AAU Nationals in Las Vegas. So I moved up to 119 pounds and lost the Eastern Trials to Michael Johnson. So at this point it was over no way making it to the Olympics except one way, pray. So I continued to train hard and pray believing that all things are possible. I was weighing about 130 pounds two weeks before the Olympic Trials were to begin when I got a call from the US Air Force boxing coach who my brother Steve, Nick Wells and Jesse Valdez were boxing at the same time. He told me if I could make 112 I could fight in the Olympic Trials as an unattached boxer because they had an opening spot in the Flyweight division. I told him I can make 112 pounds. It was obvious there was an opening because of Bobby Lee Hunter. Nobody wanted to fight Bobby Lee Hunter but me. Hunter was a knockout artist which was unusual for a flyweight. I had watched Hunter knockout this guy at the Pan Am Trials before the ringing of the bell of the first round had left the air and a Bronze Medalist at the Pan Am Games. I had sparred Hunter a couple of times during the training camp in 1971. I had the reach on Hunter and stayed away from him the whole time. I knew I could beat him if I boxed the way I was taught.
At the Olympic Trials my first bout was against Bobby Lee Hunter and I was considered the biggest underdog ever at this moment in time. I was told they had a basket at ringside to catch my head, when it got knocked off. Anyway watch it on www.youtube.com with Howard Cosell saying I gave him a boxing lesson. Next fight I beat Greg Lewis (2-time National Golden Gloves Champ) who could beat anybody but Hunter. Then I beat Ricky Dean a tough fighter from the Navy. Beating Bobby Lee Hunter made me famous for a moment because he was famous/infamous for a moment. Being incarcerated for manslaughter brought Bobby much attention. Since it appeared Bobby was the best Flyweight in the USA had that he was headed to Munich. The controversy became national and international was it good for an inmate for manslaughter to be let out of prison to represent our country at the Olympics? They were in the process of making a movie about Bobby Lee Hunter during his quest for the Olympics starting before the Pan Am Games. However with me beating Hunter ended one international conflict. See Sports Illustrated article where swimmer where Mark Spitz sees me at the Olympic Village and tells a reporter that he ought to kiss me for resolving that situation.
I was told Bobby Lee Hunter was invited to fight me again in the final box-off at West Point and he refused. I told them not to ask him again, lol. Anyway they got another boxer from Denver that I had fought the year before at the National AAU named Jesse Trujillo. We were the same built, tall and skinny except he was southpaw. We hadn’t spoken to each other since our last fight in the locker room in New Orleans where I approached him after the fight to apologize for the referee stopping our fight because I knew I hadn’t hurt him. I had come out in the first round threw a flurry of fast punches and the referee stopped the fight. I was telling him I was sorry the referee stopped the fight and Jesse wanted to fight me in the dressing room. I walked away from it until now. See the fight on www.youtube.com with Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali commentating. See the smile on my face when God had answered my prayer and I was on my way. It was a miracle to Munich. Before we left the states an eye exam revealed that I had a torn retina in my right eye but allowed to compete because I wasn’t having any visual problems at the time. Jesse Owens and VP Spiro Agnew were the guest speakers at our banquet with all the US Olympians in Washington DC. Jesse Valdez and I were roommates in the Olympic Village and we were friends. It was a great experience to walk among the best athletes in the World. The Olympic spirit was flowing with excitement.
Now I’m 17 years old and my prayer was to participate in the 1972 Olympics. That was the biggest thing I could ask for, so when the bell rang for the first round of my first fight the rest was all gravy. Ali Garbi from Tunisia was my first opponent in Munich (see it on www.youtube.com). He was game but made to order for an easy win. He was real short with real short arms. All I needed to do was relax and let him choose the way I was going to beat him. Relaxed yet focused on distance. Then, allowing your reflexes to respond whenever he was in range to keep him on the end of my jab. Sweet victory, my cup is overflowing.
The next opponent was from Cali Colombia, South America named Calixto Perez. He reminded me of Bobby Lee Hunter but on steroids. With the first punch he landed in the first round was a hard left hook to the right side of my head and when the stars dissipated there remained a dark cloud in the middle of my vision of my right eye. The cloud bounced around like a bouncing ball between me and my opponent. Until now, I had forgotten about being told I had a torn retina. I did not tell my Olympic coach Bobby Lewis when I returned to my corner seeing this dark cloud in my right eye. Round two and three are on www.youtube.com and if you watch it you will see me taking a whipping. However my new prayer was answered when the last bell rang and I was on my feet. I wondered later him being from Cali, Colombia if he chewed cocoa leaves before the fight because I didn’t faze him.
Oh yeah, I wanted to mention after my first bout Howard Cosell with ABC Wild World of Sports asked if I wanted to watch my first fight that I had just won. Yes sir, as we walked out of a side door of the venue and got in the back seat of a long white limo. Howard lit up a cigar and we went to the ABC studio building and walked in the back door. I heard Howard ask someone “play little Timmy’s fight back for him to see. What fun it was.
After losing the second fight I was free to enjoy the games which I went about doing, playing chess, ping pong, arcade games with foreigners inside the Olympic Village. I went to track and field, swimming and gymnastics watching Olga Corbett, etc. I was enjoying eating also. This particular evening I was taken out on the town in Munich by two press guys that wined and dined me until the early morning hours. They dropped me off at the entrance of the Olympic Village. I had drank much of that German beer and not thinking real clear walking in the dark toward my apartment I observed some yellow do not cross Police tape blocking the walkway but I saw nobody else in site. So I went another way to our Boxer’s apartment. I woke Jesse up telling him that something was going on and it wasn’t good. I went to bed not knowing the PLO terrorist had infiltrated the village and busted in the Israel Wrestling Teams apartment and were torturing some athletes while holding them hostage and demanding the release of some terrorist already in jail or they were going to set off a bomb in the village.
Later that morning I met up with this gentleman that had been a German Flying Ace that I had met the year before when the US team had boxed in Germany. While waiting for him to pick me up in the front of the Olympic Village a parade of German Military vehicles with open bed trucks full with German soldiers and soldiers on motorcycles all began driving into and setting up a perimeter around the village. My friend arrived and picked me up. I found out more what was going on as he was translating what we heard on his radio. When I got back to the Olympic Village things were different. Now it was a wait and see thing. The terrorists set demands and gave deadlines. As each deadline would approach we boxers walked out on our balcony looking towards the Israel Wrestling Teams apartment watching for an explosion. I was able to get where I could see the guy with the hat and sunglasses talking with the negotiators on the balcony.
During this Hostage situation inside the Olympic Village the Games continued only to stop one day for a memorial service after the standoff concluded at the airport with all Israeli hostages killed. The Olympic spirit was why the Olympic Games continued. “You stop wars to participate in Olympic Games, not to stop the Olympic Games to go to War!” Boxers Reggie Jones and Jesse Valdez got robbed big time by Communist block judges.
After the 1972 Olympics I returned home to the Grand Opening of the new Irish McNeels Sports for Boys Boxing Club on the fairgrounds in Shreveport, La. It was awesome with a dormitory, kitchen, showers, boxing equipment and 20×20 boxing ring in the center. The gym was built by volunteers and monies raised by my father George Dement and other supporters. I lost in the 1973 National Golden Gloves to Mike Hess.
I had several eye surgeries and stopped boxing. I got married at 17 mid-term my senior year at Bossier High School and worked in the kitchen of the Holiday Inn that my father managed. At 18 I was a car salesman. In 1975 at 20 years of age I got in law enforce. I always had an interest because my grandfather (Steve Norris) was a law enforcement legend in these parts. I again found myself too young. This time it was too young to carry a gun. You had to be 21 to carry a gun as a Bossier City policeman but only 18 to be a Bossier Parrish Deputy. So the Mayor Cathey contacted Sherriff Willie Waggoner and agreed to pay each half my salary. Most of my enforcement was in the Juvenile Division. When I first started I wasn’t much older than these juveniles. I worked with three experienced men who were busy investigating serious child abuse cases and little time to track down runaways. So they handed me this long metal box, stacked full of index cards with a small photo and Personal info, all runaways that they hadn’t cleared up. They said “here, find them”. So I did find them and had a great time. Then I got involved with Child Abuse. Again another wakeup call about the Cruelty of Mankind. I got passionate about my job and made it a career.
Back to boxing, after eye surgery had healed I boxed some more off and on. Then in 1980 I was 25 years old married with two children and decided to make a comeback and hopes of competing in Olympics in Russia. I was fighting at 135 pounds now on my third comeback. My opponent had a “loaded boxing glove” with two finger brass knuckles inside his right hand glove. By the middle of the last round the metal had cut its way through the padding of the glove then he hit me in the face with a right hand that sliced a large cut over my left eye and at the same time split my nose down the middle and knocking my nose off my face. A person at ringside said, it looked like my nose got hit with high voltage electricity.
At the moment the referee stopped the fight and I raised his hand in congratulations before leaving for the hospital…not knowing what had just happened later when they recovered his boxing gloves when he had gone outside the building to remove they found the tares from the inside to the outside. Again I was reminded of the Cruelty of Mankind. That fight was just an amateur bout, not for a championship or money. This dirty fighter did what he did (which could have killed me) just to say he had beat an Olympian.
Well, that put a stop to my boxing and we boycotted those Olympics anyway. I contemplated killing this guy as payback and had several volunteers to assist. However I choose to forgive him after reading in the Bible that I would be forgiven in the same measure as I forgave others. So I cut myself some slack by doing so…so to speak. Later in the early 1980’s I was selected to be what they called to be an Athletes Rep. USA/ABF Olympic committee. It involved going to national and international boxing events sometimes coaching and hanging with the fighters. I was assistant coach on two trips once in Russia and another to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Estimate of amateur bouts 120 and lost 20.
My son Jacob Dement is a coach at Dement Brothers at Old School Boxing in Bossier City (see it on Facebook) and my nephew Steve Dement coaches a gym in Augusta, GA, called Dement Brothers Fighting Systems which is boxing and MMA on Facebook also. I’ve been retired from law enforcement about 12 years and live on our family cattle farm in Desoto Parish, La.
More Boxing History
Jesse Valdez from the 1972 Olympics Was a Special Boxer
By: Ken Hissner
It was the summer of 1972 when this writer was watching the Olympic boxing from Munich, Germany. Who would know that the USA team would only win a total of 4 medal’s one being a Gold and three Bronze medals?
The one boxer on this team I always wanted to talk to was a Bronze medal winner Jesse Valdez out of Houston, TX. I started writing ten years ago and during that time I tried making contact with him but never was able to. Finally a week or so ago I saw an article by Rick Wright a Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer in New Mexico entitled “Boxing star Valdez still counting his blessings”. I was able to contact him and he gave me Jesse’s phone number and I took it from there.
“The Lord gave me a gift,” said Valdez. His first coach was Charles Cord.
There was one Gold medal winner on the 1972 team and it was “Sugar” Ray Seales from the Tacoma Boy’s Club that Joe Clough was coach. Seales would go into the professional ranks and end up with a 57-8-3 record with 34 knockouts.
Also on the team gaining a Bronze medal was future two-time world light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35).I contacted him and he said “why would you want to do a story on me?” I said “you were an Olympian and a two-time world champion”. He agreed to do a story. I love it when they are as humble as Marvin was.
Another Bronze medal winner was Ricardo Carreras, of NY, representing the Air Force. After failing to make the 1976 Olympic teamhe turned professional in 1978 and went 2-0 (2).
Three other team members of the eleven turned professional who were Duane Bobick, of the Navy, 48-4 (42) who I did a story on, Reggie Jones, 16-9-1 (8), of the Marines, Louis Self, 3-2 (2), of the Air Force and Davey Lee Armstrong, 24-3 (6) who was also a team member of the 1976 team that I did a story on him and teammates.
Not turning professional were Raymond Russell, of the Marines, Louis Busceme, Louis Self of the Air Force and Tim Dement. “I love Jesse Valdez,” said Dement. Getting back to the other boxer representing the Air Force was Valdez who was the one boxer that stood out to this writer. My two favorite Olympians of all time were him and Chuck Walker from the 1976 team.
Walker said of Valdez: I was one of those glued to the TV in 1972 watching boxing in the Olympics at Munich. Everybody knows Jesse was THE guy. He was the darling that year. I was 14 and just started boxing. He was one of my early heroes. Never noted at all for power but could that guy box, very slick, clever and effective. I believe he won the Bronze but should have won the Gold. I got to know Jesse well when he was the assistant coach at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. We (team) trained in Durango, Colorado for several weeks, then got outfitted in Dallas and then onto MC. Jesse was a great pal and coach. He related well with the guys since he was more our age. I remember one time we were riding a taxi to the coliseum for the fights. I was fighting and Michael Dokes was fighting that night. Jesse was trying to find a radio station in English and finally happened on a song by Barbara Streisand. Dokes acted like that was pure anathema and went for the dial. Jesse slapped his hand away and said “Look man….we finally found something in English. Let it be. You’re not going to find any soul music in this city. Dokes said “I don’t know what’s worse….no music at all or Barbara Streisand!!!” Jesse and I used to walk around the Pan Am village together just out of boredom. We went to a few musical acts just outside the pavilion on the grounds. Often we had lunch together in the big cafeteria. Jesse was the one that took me to the USA medical building in the village when I got my lip split by Clinton Jackson in a freak accident in sparring. He looked out for us because he had been there and knew what it was like. He knew it was a tough business and he tried to make it less so.
Valdez was also instrumental in calming what could have been a horrible situation when Tommy Sullivan won 100 bucks from Michael Dokes betting on pinball in the game room. Tempers flared and the two almost went together for real, but Jesse talked them out of it. Later that night 100 bucks came up missing from Tommy’s locker. Jesse, along with “Sugar” Ray suggested to the other fighters that we all put in a few bucks to get Tommy paid back. And then again the situation was controlled. I haven’t talked to Jesse in probably 35 years but have thought of him often and I’m glad to hear he’s doing well. If you talk to him give him my best and tell him I’ve had Burton Gilliam (from Dallas, TX) in several of my movies. Burton and Jesse fought several times back in the amateurs.
Valdez said he had about 200 fights but never kept track of his record. It was in 1964 that the then 16 year old Houston native won the National AAU welterweight championship upsetting Olympic Bronze medalist Quincy Daniels of the 1960 Olympics. Valdez would qualify for the 1964 Olympic team as an alternate. In that same year he toured as a member of the US team in Africa.
In 1967 Valdez won a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Games and was also the Golden Gloves champion. In 1970 he won the National AAU light middleweight title. In 1972 he won the Golden Gloves again and qualified for the US national team by defeating future world light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. “He cold cocked me and dropped me to a knee in the first round. I would return the favor in either the first or second round,” said Valdez.
At the Olympics in 1972 Valdez defeated KolmanKalipe (Togo) 5-0, Carlos Burga (Peru) 4-1 which I thought was a tougher fight than with the Cuban but Valdez disagreed, David Jackson (Uganda) 4-1, Anatoly Khohlov (Soviet Union) 5-0, before losing in the semi-finals to Emilio Correa (Cuba) 3-2. This writer thought Valdez won without any doubt.Correra also won the 1971 Pan-American Games and participated in the 1976 Olympics.
Valdez was in the Air Force never turning professional but even fought until 1980 at age 32 as an amateur. Junior Robles had him box on an amateur show against a Marine who outweighed Valdez by 40 pounds. “When I saw how big he was I moved and boxed him,” said Valdez. Robles also had him compete for the CA state amateur title in Sacramento where Valdez came out victorious.
“He gives boxing a good name because he was so kind hearted yet capable of destroying his opponents while staying calmly in control. Good manners are special and Jesse is someone worth writing about. Many years after the 1972 Olympics Jesse told me something to the effect that, I made an impression on him seeing me reading my Bible when we were teammates. What a great guy my brother Jesse is….he loves our Lord,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian at 112)
“I heard about him before I met him. He was like a legend. Everybody talked about Jesse. In 1967 or 1968 I saw him fight Joe Cokes, brother of world champion Curtis Cokes whom he out boxed.He was a gentleman, smart and a classy fighter. I was in the Air Force five years and knew him for about three years. Jesse touched a lot of boxers lives in a very positive way. He is a good friend, mentor and was an inspiration to me. I was proud to be his teammate. When he boxed he was sweet, hard to hit and he could punch…..hard. Jesse coached all the 1972 USAF boxing team in the National AAU,” said Nick Wells.
Valdez was asked to go to Poland on the USA team by Robles whose father had a gym that Valdez was helping with the kids. “The Holy Spirit said why do you need to go. Also veteran USA team official Bob Surkant who was a father figure to me advised me not to go. So I told Robles I wasn’t making the trip. I almost fought Robles at the 1964 Olympic Trials,” said Valdez. Other boxers who claimed to be asked but didn’t make the trip were Jimmy Clark, Marvis Frazier, Bobby Czyz, Robert Hines and Davey Armstrong. The plane went down in Warsaw, Poland, killing all 87 aboard which included Robles.
“My wife Jackie and I got down on our knees and prayed thanking God that I didn’t go. My whole life changed after that, my faith became my way of living,” said Valdez When he told me they were living in San Diego I told him we had a Calvary Chapelchurch there (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where Mike MacIntoshwas the pastor. Valdez couldn’t believe it for he attended that same church. Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel. I’ve attended three of their churches on a week-end in 1989 after starting in Philadelphia. He and his wife Jackie (originally from Buffalo, NY) now attend a Calvary Chapel church in Albuquerque where Skip Heitzig is the pastor. They have two sons James (42) and Jeremy (40).
“My oldest brother (Steve) was on the Air Force team with Jesse and we met at numerous tournaments and went overseas together. He was the greatest amateur of all-time. He could beat you many different ways. I was in awe of him. We were roommates at the Olympics. He met my family. He was like a brother and really humble. He came back from Italy and gave a picture of him and the Pope to my father. He was someone you looked up to and wanted to be like. He was a real role model,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian)
Valdez told me “in 1972 I would spar with 156 pound team member Reggie Jones and I felt he stayed that heavy to avoid meeting me in the Olympic trials,” said Valdez.He said he worked with the Spinks brothers in 1976 and almost had to bring them home.
After leaving the Air Force, Valdez became a TV cameraman, first in Houston and then to San Diego. I told him I had notes that in 1974 he worked on the prison siege at the Huntsville, TX, State Prison. “I was sent to Huntsville where 5 prisoners were holding 5 guards as hostages,with (now well-known writer) Cal Thomas who was the reporter,” said Valdez. In 1976 Valdez working with the Spinks brothers and almost had to take them home.
In 1979 I was in Philadelphia at the Joe Frazier Gym where “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Stinson (1976 Olympic Alternate) and Leonard’s cousin O’Dell would be fighting in Philadelphia. The name Valdez came up and one of them informed me he was the one who started the bowing to the four corners prior to his fight. “I think I saluted but Correa did bow after that to the four corners. I would also go to my opponent’s corner after the fight before then returning to my corner,” said Valdez.
“Jesse Valdez, David Martinez and Mark Tessman were (boxers) who I wanted to be like,” said Termite Watkins. I got an email from him due to contacting the Texan boxers I had articles with and all Christians. Termite was 61-5-2 (42), and from Houston who fought for the WBC super lightweight title. He has a book called “Termite” about his experiences in Iraq as a pest control exterminator which is well worth reading. He’s a great friend and one of the most genuine and humble boxers I ever met. I’m honored to call him my friend today. We keep in touch on the phone. He may be the greatest amateur fighter I ever saw.
Valdez was kind enough to answer some questions.
KEN HISSNER: The first time I saw you was in the 1972 Olympics and was immediately impressed with your style of boxing. Was your coach Charles Cord responsible for that?
JESSE VALDEZ: In the long run I would say yes. I had him as my coach at a younger age.
KEN HISSNER: You winning the National AAU championship at 16 in 1964 defeating Quincey Daniels who was on the 1960 team did that qualify you as an alternate for that Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Maurice Trilot of the Marines and was an alternate.
KEN HISSNER: Did you get involved with making the 1968 Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Armando Muniz in the finals.
KEN HISSNER: What period of time were you in the Air Force?
JESSE VALDEZ: 1969-1972
KEN HISSNER: In 1972 you defeated Eddie Gregory (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad later) to qualify for the Olympic team. Was defeating him and Daniels two of your biggest wins prior to going to the Olympics?
JESSE VALDEZ: If I win I win but never think of who I fought.
KEN HISSNER: Were you still pretty active from 1972 to 1980 between your coaching at the 1975 Pan Am Games and still having some fights?
JESSE VALDEZ: I was an assistant at the 1975 Pan Am Games.
KEN HISSNER: Do you still stay in touch with any of your 1972 team members or have any re-unions?
JESSE VALDEZ: I don’t really except “Sugar” Ray Seales.
KEN HISSNER: Getting ripped off in the 1972 Olympics against the Cuban was that a deciding factor in not turning professional?
JESSE VALDEZ: I had two offers. One was to stay in Air Force as the boxing coach and from Bill Daniels owner of the Denver Rockets.
KEN HISSNER: How did the terrorist attack at the Olympics in Munich affect you and your teammates?
JESSE VALDEZ: We heard the gunfire. It was quite alarming.
KEN HISSNER: Not going to Poland in 1980 when their plane went down killing all aboard did that end your boxing career?
JESSE VALDEZ: It totally did. I was 35 at the time and figured at that age I was too old. Junior Robles convinced me to go but I changed my mind. He was among those killed on the airplane.
KEN HISSNER: I know you go back to Houston for some of the Golden Gloves tourneys. Are you completely out of training boxers now?
JESSE VALDEZ: Unless you’ve been in the ring it is hard to teach someone to box.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and I have to tell you it is so rewarding to finally catch up to you.
JESSE VALDEZ: It was nice going back in time with you.