Julius “Julie” Menendez, the former SJSU coach who once trained U.S. boxing legend Cassius Clay before he became Muhammad Ali, died on April 14 at the age of 90.
“Julie was one-of-a-kind,” said Gary St. Clair, head coach of SJSU's men’s soccer team. “He was the only person in U.S. history that has been a U.S. Olympic team coach in two different sports.”
A public memorial service will be held on May 19 at 1 p.m. in Morris Dailey auditorium.
“We have an impressive lineup of speakers who will be talking about Julie and all the things that he did and all the things that he meant to other people.” St. Clair said. “He was a very, very unique person with some incredible accomplishments.”
According to Lawrence Fan, SJSU sports information director, Menendez joined the San Jose State coaching staff in 1953 as an assistant boxing coach and in 1954 was promoted to head coach. Under his leadership, the SJSU boxing team won the 1958, 1959 and 1960 National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships.
Menendez was also head coach of SJSU men’s soccer team for 36 seasons beginning in 1954, according to Fan. During this time, the men’s soccer team won 295 games, had 22 consecutive winning seasons from 1963 through 1984 and participated in 11 NCAA Tournaments.
“There are thousands of young men over the course of his 36 years that he coached soccer at San Jose State that have been tremendously influenced by Julius Menendez,” St. Clair said.
In addition to his coaching position at SJSU, Menendez was head coach of the 1960 U.S. Olympic boxing team in which he coached Ali to a gold medal. He was also the head coach of the 1976 U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team and assistant coach of the 1972 U.S. Olympic men's soccer team, according to Fan.
“To be a head coach of two different Olympic sports in two different Olympic Games, that’s probably his greatest distinction in the world of sports,” Fan said. “In terms of notoriety, it would be that he was Muhammad Ali’s coach when Muhammad Ali won a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics.”
According to Fan, Menendez was the 1946 national Golden Gloves champion and boxed professionally from 1946 to 1948.
He also served in the Navy during World War II, according to Spartan Athletics.
Menendez was inducted into the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame and was accorded Spartan Legend status in 2001, according to Spartan Athletics.
“Julie will be greatly missed by everybody,” St. Clair said. “All of us are reminders of what he has done.”
He is survived by his wife, Doris; daughter, Terri; and sons Jack and Danny.