Inducted on November 18, 2004
Thomas (Tommy) Parks was born and raised in Rahway, New Jersey where he attended public school and excelled in several sports including football and basketball. Tommy was a State Golden Gloves Champion and later embarked on a Professional boxing career. He fought in the Welterweight Division and compiled a 33-3 record.
Tommy entered the US Army and while stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, he trained members of the Army Boxing Team. After being discharged from the Army, Tommy returned to New Jersey and began working on his career goal, and that was to become one of New Jersey’s Greatest trainers. Tommy founded the PARKSTEIN Boxing Club in Newark, New Jersey where he trained many youth to become Amateur and Professional Boxers. He also co-founded the PARKS-Branch Gym in Newark with former Councilman and Ex-Professional Boxer George Branch. While most good trainers emphasize the finer points of boxing to get the best out of their fighters, Tommy went further. He taught the importance of life outside of the ring. Taking the advice he had given to so many young fighters, Tommy decided to further his own education. He returned to school to Seton Hall University where he earned a BA degree in Sociology. Afterwards, Tommy continued his education by enrolling in Fairleigh Dickinson University where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration. In 1970, Tommy became Director of the Model Cities Program in Plainfield, New Jersey and later held this same position in Newark for many years. When the program phased out, Tommy accepted a position heading the Department of Public Works and Urban Affairs. He also served for a time as Director of Newark’s Human Resources Department. In 1982 he agreed to take on the position of Chief of Staff at Newark City Hall for his longtime friend and partner, George Branch. He retired from that position in 1999.
Although Tommy worked as an administrator during the day, he was loyal to his “first love” – Boxing – at night. Tommy managed and trained some very successful and talked about fighters such as Marty Pettiford, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Bobby “Chappy” Czyz, Derrick “Poppy” Rolon, Livingstone “Ras-I” Bramble, Jose Ribalta, Cornell “Slim” Simms, and the “Triple Threat Team” of Charles “The Natural” Murray, Alfred “Ice” Cole, and Ray “Merciless” Mercer. He also worked with fighters Monte Barrett, Shawn Fitzgerald, Maurice “Mo” Harris and Shannon Briggs just to name a few.
Tommy was a mentor to many youth but saw something special in a particular young man who became his lifelong friend – former boxer, Professional referee, Amateur State Champion and current New Jersey State Athletic Commissioner Larry Hazzard.
Although Tommy retired from his “day job,” he continued with his first love until his death on July 24, 2003. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife Easter Coleman Parks, his son Craig and everyone in the boxing world.