Inducted on November 11, 2010
Luis Rivera Garcia, Jr. was born between two castles: El Morro and San Cristobal, in a ghetto called “La Perla” in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the oldest of six siblings, all brothers. His father enlisted in the USA Army and served during World War II and the 1950 conflict with Korea under the 65th Infantry, and his mother was a housewife who took care of the family during his father’s absence. Rivera attended school in Puerto Rico and was a standout athlete who excelled in track and field in the 800 and 1,500 meters. During that time he also boxed under the tutelage of Julio Enrique Monaga, the president of Parks and Recreation, and under Pepito Maldonado, the director of boxing at Parks and Recreation.
Rivera, who won four Golden Gloves championships, represented Puerto Rico at the Central American Games in Venezuela; the Intercity Championships in New York City; Golden Gloves in 1959; and the Pan American Games in Chicago. He made the team for the 1970 Olympic Games in Rome, but due to an injury he was unable to complete.
Later in 1960, Rivera left Puerto Rico for New York where he competed and won the Spanish Gloves. In 1962 he made the finals of the 1962 Golden Gloves, but with rheumatic fever he was deemed unfit to compete and was therefore eliminated.
As a professional Rivera fought a handful of well-known boxers such as Vito Antoufermo, Willie Monroe, Jose Anglada, and Willie Rivera, among many others.
In 1962 he married Maria Adorno and the two had two sons: Luis, Jr. and Anthony. After divorcing Maria in 1965, Rivera remarried in 1970 and had two more children: Edwin and daughter Maritza – both now teachers within the New York City school system.
After the many ups and downs that have marked and shaped Rivera’s life, he’s managed to pull it all together although he says it hasn’t been easy. He worked with Ramon Velez in the Puerto Rican Development Project and attended City College in 1970 through the SEEK program and received a BS in Health and then went on to receive his MS in Physical Education. He’s worked as Physical Education Director of Substance Abuse at Project Return and later went on to work with the Anti-Drug Abuse Council under Governor Mario Cuomo. He also worked at Promesa as a coordinator in recreation. He left the therapeutic community system after fifteen years to work as a long shoreman in New Jersey.
In boxing, Rivera has worked as a trainer, amateur coach, amateur and professional referee and judge. He feels he’s lived a great life that has given him nothing but fulfillment and rewards. “I worked with the youth in prevention in alcohol and substance abuse by using sports and recreation as a vehicle for prevention,” he says.