At 35-years-old, when most fighters are considering hanging up the gloves, Joe Martell is just getting started in his boxing career. Born in Los Angeles in 1977, Martell would move to Texas as a young boy and grow up in El Paso’s “Segundo Barrio,” a tough neighborhood that has had it’s share of gang wars and killings. Like any major city, El Paso is a beautiful city rich in culture and history, but also has it’s dark side.
The streets of El Paso can be a cruel place, growing up without his father in the picture, Martell says he witnessed things no child should ever see. Martell also said he had the feeling of being short changed and was mad at the world, burning bridges along the way.
Martell did have a step-father, for whom he says he is grateful. His step-father has been a very important person in his life. Martell says that the man stepped up to the plate and did the best he could to provide, putting in long days working to support Joe and his family.
Martell would focus on football and the dream of playing it professionally someday. It was this dream that helped keep him out of gangs. Despite the odds, Martell would make it to college and a chance to play football. Martell says some bad decisions and lack of discipline would ruin his chances of playing football professionally and although he did play on a semi-pro league for a few years, his desire and drive to play vanished.
Martell says growing up with a less than perfect life has made him an under dog, he may be right, the odds of success were always stacked against him, but with time also brings wisdom.
A move to Arizona would not change his life right away, he says a DUI in 2008 would land him in prison. Martell makes no excuse for the DUI and says it was a difficult time in his life. Released from Florence West Correctional Facility in 2010, he decided to take up boxing at age 33.
Martell had only 10 fights as an amateur before turning pro, but admits his lack of amateur fights and discipline cost him in the ring. His disposition has now changed, he hooked up with George Garcia, a former California State Boxing Champion back in the day and owner of Hammer Boxing Gym in Phoenix. Garcia would take Martell under his wing and guide him, telling him it would not be easy to have a boxing career unless he could dedicate himself. It would be with Garcia that Martell would find purpose and a father figure, something that would be missing his entire life.
Martell also started a company called Under Dog Fight Gear, a concept clothing line based on beating the odds and the will to succeed. The idea to start Under Dog Fight Gear came to him when he was released from prison. Martell says he was turned down time after time for a job due to his DUI, he went to his older brother Dennis who he always looked up to for inspiration, the rest is history.
For Martell, he knows he has his critics and says they are harsh on him, but many are not aware that he is new to boxing. With 2 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw, Martell hopes to improve his record. He fights Nov. 30 at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix on the Iron Boy Promotions undercard.
Joe Martell has beaten the odds that have been thrown his way, it could have easily gone the other way. At the very least one has to respect Joe Martell, he is humble and has taken his life lessons and prevailed. He is dedicated and well disciplined now, something he lacked in his early years. Martell has a purpose and teaches his life lessons to young people with the intent of steering them from the path he has already traveled.
Martell knows he may never be a world champion, but says he loves to fight. From his early days training with Andrews Soto and Eric Hernandez at the Knockout Gym, Martell says he has learned from his mistakes and regrets not being dedicated. Expect to see a better, more dedicated Martell in his next fight, win or lose he is already champion at life.
Joe Martell will be a guest tomorrow Nov. 28, on Max Boxing Radio, Punches “N” Bunches Edition hosted by Tony Whitby and myself, Ron Valderrama at 10 p.m. MST. Tune in and hear Joe Martell and other guest as we chop up the fight game, the call in number is 424-258-9273.