Well respected and loved trainer succumbs
By Bill Tibbs
The world is currently in a tough fight against the coronavirus that is taking its toll the world over.
Boxing, like many industries in the world, will sadly lose some people before the dust settles. News broke today that former heavyweight contender, Michigan’s Derrick Jefferson, is in an induced coma as he fights the virus.
Also, sad news that long-time New Jersey cut man and trainer Nelson Cuevas has died after contracting the virus.
To say Cuevas worked under some of boxings old school legends would be an understatement to say the least.
Cuevas, 80, inducted into the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame in November of last year, fought as a professional from 1964-70 before being convinced by legendary trainer Cus D’Amato to move into training fighters.
After opening his own gym, “The Applo Boxing Club”, in the mid 70’s, Cuevas worked with some great fighters including Vinnie Pazienza, Howard Davis Jr., James McGirt and countless other New York and New Jersey fighters.
Cuevas leaned the art of closing cuts from another boxing legend in Chickie Ferrara who himself had worked with all-time greats like Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano. Cuevas was lucky to be part of an era in boxing, an era like the sport will never see again, getting to work with trainers and cut men that are still regarded today as legends in the sport.
The social sites lit up with many well-known boxing men posting memories of a man they clearly liked and respected.
Long-time matchmaker Ron Katz took to Twitter, saying, “Rest in peace my old friend, if you knew him you knew he was liked by all. Always had a smile on his face, such a sad loss”.
Added Top Rank, Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler, “Nelson Quevas was a good man. Sorry to lose him”.
However, it was a post by legendary trainer and broadcaster Teddy Atlas that really showed the reach of the late Cuevas. “Part of my start in boxing was taking kids (including Mike Tyson) to ‘smokers’ in the Bronx. In many ways I grew up there and the trainer and owner Cuevas was my big brother. He passed away today. I’m remembering my beginnings and my brother”.
In a recent interview, Cuevas spoke of perhaps his greatest accomplishment in life. Underneath the always smiling face of Cuevas was a very strong sense of pride for where he had been able to get himself to after what could be described as a tough start in life.
“I’m very proud of what I accomplished because I grew up by myself”, he said. “Many people grow up having help, but I didn’t. I became a man at 11 years old. I have worked with so many kids and helped them get off the streets, and I am very proud of that.”
A good, well respected man - in and out of the ring.
Rest in peace, Champ.