Inducted on November 14, 2002
I am a life long resident of Linden, N.J. and a graduate of Linden high school class of 1952.The Givens name has been almost synonymous with sports in the city of Linden for a long time.
I have been married to my wife Geneva for 47 years. We have three sons, Donald Jr., Derek, and Tyrone. We have seven grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
I retired from Exxon Chemical Company, Linden technology Center after 35 years as a Senior Research Technician. I also served on the union bargaining committee for 20 years. I have always been youth oriented, serving as PAL pop Warner football coach and teaching karate to the local kids and young adults. There is no greater satisfaction than to watch an uncoordinated kid develop into a disciplined, well rounded young person, who gets their education and goes on to bigger and better things in life. I have fathers that I have trained as young men bringing their sons to me to learn how to box. I presently serve on the board of directors of the Linden pal, and boxing coach with Elizabeth recreation boxing team at Erxeleben recreation center in Bayway. I also direct the Linden boxing club/Third World Inc. of Linden NJ. I started boxing at the age of 15 along with some friends of mine, including the late Harold Carter and Leroy Grant, whom I tried to emulate because he was so quick. We boxed under the tutelage of the late Gene Holmes and Willie “Dee” Robinson of Linden, two of the best boxing trainers on the east coast. They led Harold Carter and “Ace” Armstrong two Linden residents to top ten rankings. Harold, Ace and Leroy won the gloves in 1952 and going on to fight in the Eastern finals in Madison square garden. Harold lost out to Floyd Paterson that year. I won the N.J golden gloves featherweight novice championship on my first try in 1953.Winning the golden gloves championship was one of the highlights of my life, especially since my mom and dad were there watching me box for the first time ever. I then entered the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and continued to box. I won numerous Air Force and AAU championships and compiled an amateur record of 97-12 before being discharged in 1957.My pro career never got off the ground because of a service connected injury to my wrist. My intent was to joined Harold, Ace and Leroy in the pro ranks, but after one fight the wrist was not right so I gave up the dream and turned to coaching boxing and teaching karate. In 1960 I went back to my “roots” and started coaching at Kirk center in Elizabeth N.J. where I started my boxing career. I coached there with Tony Orlando Sr.
Then George Howard, Otis Starling and myself took over the Elizabeth Pal boxing program. We had a very successful gym and turned out many golden gloves and diamond glove champs from Elizabeth and the surrounding areas, such as Rodney Price, Dave Brown, Derek “poppy” Rolon, Andreke Payne, Anthony Martin, James Leak, Bruce Starling and Mike Delre and others. I also trained and managed Rodney, Andreke and Dave Brown as professionals. Boxing is my passion and I will be involved in it until the good lord takes me away from here. I am a certified National and international USA boxing coach. I have served as training camp coach for USA boxing top boxers at the US Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I have traveled extensively with national and international teams to foreign countries such as Hungary, Yugoslavia, Denmark and Nova Scotia. I am presently one of the top-level amateur coaches in the country. I presently serve as coaches’ committee chairman of N.J. association of USA boxing, with the responsibility of holding clinics and seminars to certify all coaches within the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s local boxing committee.
I was honored as amateur coach of the year by the NJ boxing hall of fame in 2000 and I would like to thank Steve Weisfeld for putting my name in for nomination and all those that supported it.