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Third Ward

Progressive Amateur Boxing Association

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6 minutes

.1 miles

From 3212 Dowling Street to 3212 Dowling Street

Houston's First Fighting Preacher the Reverend Ray Martin Welcomes you to the Progressive Amateur Boxing Association (PABA)! Founded in 1968 as a non-profit community based athletic/recreational, counselling, educational and resource center, the PABA has served over 11,000 youths in the 3rd Ward and greater Houston area.

PABA at 3212 Dowling Street

Sparring Match of the Century!

The ring

Rev. Ray Martin and Mrs. Barbara Martin with their child, and the PABA groundbreaking

A close up of one of the display cases

Rev. Ray Martin the Fighting Preacher and his hero Joe Louis The Brown Bomber

Rev. Ray Martin, Angelo Dundee, Joe Frazier, Eddie Futch, Bud Johnson, and a young fan. Marvin Zindler, Evander Holyfield, Ray Martin, George Strake

PABA's trophy case

Rev. Ray Martin

Ray Martin Sr., founder and director a Taylor, Texas native was born to Grace (Green) Martin and Jesse Martin. He served in the United States Airforce, played football for Texas Southern University and is credited with integrating boxing in Texas. Most recently (2004) the Reverend and the organization built a full scale boxing ring in the historic Jack Yates high school and launched the first boxing academy in a public high school in Texas and the nation.


Paris Eley

Former music executive, radio personality and writer, Paris Eley has spent several years researching and penning the eagerly awaited biography of Reverend Ray Martin Sr.


The book is being written under the working title of the PABA motto: “ A Child Can’t Open A Knife or Fire A Gun with Boxing Gloves On “ and documents the critical role that Reverend  Martin, also known as Houston’s First Fighting Preacher,  played in bringing an end to segregated amateur boxing in Texas; his use of the sport to effect social change in the lives of young people ; and his enduring leadership as a civil rights activist and youth advocate. It chronicles the trials and triumphs of the preacher from creation of the Progressive Amateur Boxing Association through his  legendary Sparring Match of the Century in the AstroHall Arena which he sent The Greatest, Muhammad Ali to the canvas not once, not twice, but three times for charity.