A Las Vegas heavyweight takes off the gloves to defend the estate of Mr. Showmanship
One had golden gloves, the other golden rings, but both scored knockouts at Madison Square Garden, before making it big in Las Vegas. Joe Cortez was 19-1 as a professional boxer when he left for the hospitality business in 1963, then returned to boxing as referee in 1977. Soon after, Liberace’s physician, Dr. Elias Ghanem, later Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, talked Cortez into moving to Las Vegas. The rest is history, as Joe Cortez refereed over 170 world title fights. Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Caesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson are just a few of the names on those marquees.
Known for his trademarked slogan “Fair But Firm,” Joe Cortez was inducted into the International boxing Hall of Fame in 2011. He retired from the ring in 2012, becoming a boxing analyst for ESPN and many other sports media. Fellow IBHOF 2011 inductee Sylvester Stallone made sure moviegoers got a dose of reality, casting Joe Cortez as referee in the film Rocky Balboa.
“Joe was training referee for Connor McGregor,” Liberace Foundation Chairman Jonathan Warren reminds us, “in his boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather. Joe started coaching me on the Foundation’s fights a few years ago. I know he’s a knockout for this Board.”