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October 13, 1943|
Harlem, New York, U.S.A.
|Wins by KO||1|
Cortez is of Puerto Rican descent. He had a successful amateur boxing career, winning various Golden Gloves tournaments from 1960 to 1962. In 1963, Joe turned pro at the age of eighteen. He had a record of ten wins and one defeat as a professional boxer, and the loss was to Georgie Foster from Ohio. Unable to secure a world title shot, he retired from boxing after only eleven professional fights. Cortez moved to Puerto Rico in 1969 working at The El Conquistador Hotel and worked his way up to Executive Assistant manager. Living there, he became fluent in Spanish. In 1977, he moved back to New York where he started work as a Casino Operations Manager for the El San Juan Hotel, one of the three properties in Puerto Rico.
Beginning in the 1977, Cortez started working as a referee. During the 1980s, he took on the responsibility to referee some major Championship fights. During this time he was the third man in the ring in several professional Mike Tyson and Roberto Duran fights.
As eminent referees Richard Steele and Mills Lane retired at the dawn of the 21st century, Cortez became one of Nevada and New York's preferred boxing referees for world title fights. He has refereed over 170 world title bouts, among which figure the first Oscar De La Hoya-Julio César Chávez meeting, Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe's first title fight and the match that saw 45-year-old George Foreman become the oldest World Heavyweight Champion in history. Asked by Telemundo personnel to give a prediction about the first de la Hoya-Chávez meeting prior to the fight taking place, he simply answered "I can't make any predictions", as referees are not allowed to do that before a fight (doing so might indicate favouritism towards one of the combatants).
Cortez still referees major boxing events, and his catchphrase during pre-fight instructions, "(I am) fair but firm!" (also said as "I'm fair but I'm firm!") is now a registered trademark. Cortez also gives boxing classes and has a website www.Fairbutfirm.com, which teaches someone how to become a referee and talk show host.
He also appears in the film Rocky Balboa as the referee in the exhibition bout between Balboa and the fictional champion Mason "The Line" Dixon played by the professional boxer Antonio Tarver, as well as in I Spy with Eddie Murphy and in Play It To The Bone with Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson.
Cortez was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in November 1998 and into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011. He retired from refereeing in September 2012 after Canelo Alvarez vs Josesito Lopez fight, and is currently a boxing analyst for ESPN Sports.
Cortez recently assisted Conor McGregor with his transition to boxing for the super fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. . Cortez is acting as the referee during Conor's sparring sessions while training for the bout.
- 1960 Joe Cortez of the Boys Club of NY won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves' novice championship at flyweight over Pablo Acevedo of the Salem Crescent AC by decision.
- 1961 of the Boys Club of NY won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves' open championship at bantamweight over Angelo Soto of the Salem Crescent AC by decision.
- 1961 won the New York Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions at bantamweight by KO over Clyde Tyler. Joe and Mike Cortez are the only brothers who won this tournament.
- 1961 won the Intercity Golden Gloves' championship at bantamweight by decision over Oscar German.
- 1962 Spanish Golden Gloves Champion.
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|11 fights||10 wins||1 loss|
- Joe Cortez. boxrec.com
- Joe Cortez on IMDb
- Fair But Firm.com
- Boxing In Your Face with Joe Cortez
- ringsidereport.com interview with Cortez
| New York Daily News Golden Gloves
Novice Flyweight Champion
| New York Daily News Golden Gloves
Open Bantamweight Champion
| New York Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
| Intercity Golden Gloves
Tournament lapse until 1977