Inducted on November 11, 1999
Joe Louis Parham was born August 20,1937, that was one month and 28 days after my hero, The Great Joe Louis, won the heavyweight Championship of the World. That was my first connection to boxing, a sport that I could never love enough. I started boxing in Virginia at the age of 15 when I won two amateur titles. At the age of 19, I moved to New Jersey to live with my older brother Horace Parham, who boxed in the Army. My brother took me to Paterson, N.J., to meet two Hall of Famers-Paul Cavalier and Tony Catanzaro. They taught me the scientific skills of boxing as they guided me through a successful amateur career. I turned professional on June 2, 1958, and fought a total of 42 fights most of them in the New England
area. Sometimes fighting two fights a night, I fought such fighters as five-time World Champion Ernie Griffith, New England Middleweight Champion Willie Green, Jimmy McNair and others. During November 1964, I had the opportunity to be a sparring partner with the Great Sugar Ray Robinson. It gave me the feeling that I was in another world. What I learned for Sugar Ray, I will never forget. We call him god. Sugar Ray was training for a bout with Al Hauser. Back in the old days many new clubs were opening up, you didn’t know whom you were going to fight until the night of the fight. That is why a fighter always had to stay in shape. One night during October 1963, in Teaneck, N.J., is a night I will never forget. I had the opportunity to meet my hero. The one and only Joe Louis. It was like the finishing touch to everything. He was a guest referee for the Jose Torres and Don Fullmer fight. I later had several opportunities to meet Joe Louis in places such as Las Vegas and New York. There was little money in those days when I was in school. I learned to be a brick mason and today I am a self-employed brick mason contractor. Most of my mason contracts are for celebrities. Sometimes their entire conversation is boxing. Boxing has been very good to me. First, I had the opportunity to travel and see the world. One of my very close friends is Hall of Famer and former Lightweight Champion of the World Ike William; he worked with Muhammad Ali. I traveled to Zaire, South Africa to see Ali fight George Foreman, where Ali regained his championship title. After I finished my boxing career, I started training amateur kids with the PAL (Police Athletic League) program. I started with the Teaneck New Jersey PAL, and also worked with the Englewood, N.J., boxing club. Currently, I am associated with the Hackensack, N.J., PAL program under Mike Midega. He is such a pleasure to be around, how he puts so much into helping the kids that need it. The first year we started, 1996, we had a New Jersey Golden Glove Champ Don Sommerville, who went to the finals at The National Tournament the Olympic Year 1996. I also work with professional fighters. I am the trainer for George Jones, a cruiserweight who at this time is 14-0. We are hoping for a championship title fight in the near future. I advise my professional fighters to invest and save the money. Within a boxing career you have only a few good years. Invest in a home, get something to fall back on, learn a trade so when it’s time to hange them up you’re left in good shape. I’ve had the ride, it’s like the setting of the sun, but the memory will always be there with you. Thanks for the ride.