Joseph Hadley is an American retired boxer from Jackson, Tennessee, who competed in middleweight division in the 1970s, one of a few trained by Cus D'Amato himself, and also one of the first documented U.S. mixed martial artists. He was selected a member of the All-American AAU boxing team for 1973, and was named the top middleweight amateur boxer in the nation in 1973 by the National AAU Boxing Committee.[2] Hadley drew attention of the press and public by carrying a Bible into the ring, hence his nickname "Preacher," which reflects he actually was a minister.[3] For that reason Hadley refused to pose for a picture with Muhammad Ali, "because Mr. Ali does not live tip to my principles according to the Bible."[4]

Joey Hadley
BornJoseph Hadley
Medal record
Men's amateur boxing
Representing the  United States
North American Championships
Gold medal – first place 1971 Latham Middleweight

Amateur careerEdit

Joey Hadley was one of the lesser known boxers D'Amato trained, who fought both in amateur and professional bouts in the 1970s. Hadley was living and training in D'Amato's mansion in Catskill, New York. Hadley took up boxing in 1966 while still living in Tennessee. Hadley won various awards as an amateur boxer, being a six-time Golden Gloves of the Memphis and Mid-South, Three-time Southeastern AAU champion, and United States and North American champion.[5] Fighting for the middleweight at the 1971 National Championships, he won seven fights in nine days, all against regional champions, five by knockouts, knocking down every fighter he faced.[3][6] Hadley also knocked out future world champ Leon Spinks as an amateur in 1973.[7] He also gained fame in 1976 for having fought one of the earliest mixed martial arts bouts in history against Arkansas Karate champion David Valovich.[8] He used D'Amato's style prominently in these fights.


Professional careerEdit

Hadley was a protege of Cus D'Amato, he turned pro under D'Amato's tutelage, D'Amato was in Hadley's corner and was introduced at his pro debut in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Hadley fought at an undercard of The Rumble in the Jungle. at the same card with other D'Amato's fighter, light heavyweight Bobby Stewart of Amsterdam, New York (who is to be known later as the first trainer of Mike Tyson.)[9][10]

Professional boxing recordEdit

4 fights 4 wins 0 losses
By knockout 4 0
No. Result Record Opponent Opp Record Type Round, time Date Location Notes
4 Win 4–0   John McClendon 0–4–0 KO ? (4) 26 Apr 1977   Holiday Inn, Rivermont Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee
3 Win 3–0   Phil Wade 0–1–0 TKO ? (4) 29 Mar 1977   Holiday Inn, Rivermont Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee
2 Win 2–0   Pepe Ortiz 0–1–0 TKO ? (4) 25 Nov 1974   Felt Forum, New York City
1 Win 1–0   Gene Orten 0–3–0 TKO 1 (4), 1:05 29 Oct 1974   Boys' Club gymnasium, Pittsfield, Massachusetts Gene Orten took up the bout on a short notice, as Hadley's scheduled opponent Ray Rich of Lowell, Mass., failed to appear.
Canc.   Cove Green NR 0 (4) 24 Sep 1974   Boys' Club gymnasium, Pittsfield, Massachusetts The card was cancelled for the main event was rescheduled due to George Foreman was cut during a sparring session.
  Carl Harden ? (4) 13 Aug 1974   Sargent Field, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
1 match 1 win 0 losses
By knockout 1 0
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 1–0   David Valovich TKO (punches) Mid-South Pro Boxing June 22, 1976 1 (4) 1:38 Memphis Blues Baseball Park—Fairgrounds, Memphis, Tennessee, United States Special feature

Retirement and later lifeEdit

Hadley's career ended after an eye infection while working in New York.[5]

As a former student of D'Amato, Haldey is one of the only boxing coaches to train people in the authentic peek-a-boo style of boxing.


  1. ^ National Golden Gloves tournament, semi-finals, Lowell Sun, March 22, 1973, p. 31.
  2. ^ Boxing Results (UPI,) Cumberland Times, March 11, 1973, p. 41.
  3. ^ a b Hadley Blends Boxing, Bible, The Troy Record, 28 May 1971, p. 24.
  4. ^ Reggie Jones & Mates Meet 11 British Boxers, Daily News from New York, January 10, 1973.
  5. ^ a b Local boxing legend turns to coaching
  6. ^ North American Boxing Championships Tonight, The Troy Record, May 31, 1971, p. 24.
  7. ^ Boxing trainer with impressive connections operating in Atoka
  8. ^ Kelley, Steve. Karate's Prestige Takes a Nosedive (June 22, 1976). Press Scimitar Sports
  9. ^ Boys' Club audience sees two boxing champions fall by Bill Mahan, The Berkshire Eagle, October 30, 1974, p. 32.
  10. ^ Fight card completed for show, The Berkshire Eagle, September 16, 1974, p. 23.

External linksEdit