IRVINGTON, NJ — Former Irvington Police Officer Valentin Contreras will be inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the 46th annual Dinner and Induction Ceremonies at 7 p.m. at the Venetian restaurant in Garfield.
According to the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, Contreras will be immortalized in the annals of New Jersey boxing, alongside other 2015 inductees, including Donald Trump, John Brown, Andre Kut, Curtis Parker, Micky Ward, George Hill, Daryl Peoples, Dave Weinberg, Bill Johnson and Mark Taffet. Posthumous inductees are: Bouie Fisher, Kevin Smith and Harry Wiley.
Trump is being inducted for his contributions to boxing in Atlantic City in the 1980s, according to the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame’s website.
“They’re also going to be honoring our senior amateurs, Junior Olympic amateur and professional boxer of the year, as well as the amateur official and coach of the year, plus the 2015 man of the year,” Contreras said Monday, Nov. 2. “I’ve been in boxing for approximately 37 years and, out of that time, 27 of those was as a trainer. At one point, I was running the PAL boxing in Irvington.”
“I was a teenager, maybe 13 or 14 years old, when I started boxing and I had many, many amateur fights where I won Junior Olympic titles, Golden Gloves titles, Diamond Gloves titles and I traveled all over the world with the U.S.A. team,” Contreras said. “It was great. Those were the fun days.”
But Contreras said boxing stopped being strictly fun and got a lot more serious for him at age 19, when he started boxing professionally. After that, he said, “It was something that I took on as a career.”
“That was a hobby before, but when you turn professional, that’s a career,” Contreras said. “I was still young, like 19. Shortly after, I developed an irregular heartbeat and I had to stop my career right there. My trainer, Jose Valentin, guided me; he was like a father to me and he said to me: ‘Valentin, it’s not the end of the world. Do what I did. Go into law enforcement.’ That’s the beginning of my law enforcement career right there.”
Contreras said he became a juvenile detention officer in Essex County and also started training fighters at that time.
“I followed his footsteps and retired from law enforcement and I’m still with the boxing now and it’s going to continue for the rest of my life; I love this,” Contreras said Thursday, Nov. 5. “Going into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame is a good thing. I was nominated by a friend of mine, Jose Rosario, to be inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. A couple weeks later, he called and said: ‘You’re in.’ I’ll be the first police officer from Irvington and the first Dominican-born boxer to go into the hall.”
Contreras is looking forward to the induction ceremony, saying Monday, Nov. 2, “I can’t wait ‘til that date. That’s going to be something that’s going to stay there forever. That’s history. I think I paid my dues. I’m also looking forward to meeting Donald Trump.”
To learn more about Contreras or the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, visit http://www.njboxinghof.org.