22nd ANNUAL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CELEBRATION IN
BOXING'S HOMETOWN - CANASTOTA, NEW YORK
CANASTOTA, NY - JUNE 12, 2011 - A record crowd of boxing fans from around the globe that swelled into the thousands congregated at the Hall of Fame's Events Pavilion to see the Class of 2011 join boxing immortals when they were enshrined into the Hall of Fame during the Official Induction Ceremony on Sunday, June 12th.
The ceremony capped four days of activities in “Boxing’s Hometown” celebrating the new class of inductees. The weekend featured many exciting events including a golf tournament, cocktail party, banquet and boxing autograph card show. Also, there were a variety of activities on the Museum Grounds including the popular "ringside lecture" question and answer sessions, book signings and silent auction.
This year's living inductees were three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez, junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, trainer Nacho Beristain, referee Joe Cortez and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone. Living honorees received the official Hall of Fame Induction Certificate and gold Hall of Fame ring symbolizing their status as Hall of Famers.
Mexico’s trainer of champions Beristain graciously shared Hall of Fame honors with the many champions he guided, as he was the first inductee to accept his honors. “Without them, I never would have been deserving of this honor.”
Referee Cortez, who is known for being “Fair But Firm,” was next to accept his Hall of Fame ring. “…I became a professional referee back in 1977 in New York City. My dream was to do one world title fight, just one. And that fight was the great Aaron Pryor, along with Miguel Montilla. That was an honor for me.”
As the crowd chanted “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky” screenwriter Stallone made his way to the microphone to join boxing’s immortals. “Music to my ears. But more importantly, whenever you’re saying ‘Rocky’ I always feel as though you’re giving a vote of confidence to these great athletes.”
"I've never pretended to be a boxer. I don't possess those skills. What I do think I have is an understanding of what goes on outside the ring. Outside the ring is sometimes maybe an even bigger struggle than what goes on inside the ring, and I was able to capture that. Then I believe that you can identify more with the fighter.”
“And Yo Adrian, I did it!" Stallone exclaimed in closing.
Russian-born Australian Tszyu spoke of his children as he accepted his gold ring. “Now, this ring – let me put it on – is special. This is special not only for me, of course it will be on my hand for some time until my kids grow up. Of course, everything we do in life is for our kids – I really hope - I’ve got my two boys here - that they’re listening – that life is not easy and I don’t want your life to be easy . I want your life to be difficult and when you achieve it at the end you’re going to say thank you that it’s not that easy. And I hope that one day in like thirty years you’re going to invite me to this event as inductees and I’m going to be proudly sitting here watching you inducted like me.”
“El Gran Campeon Mexicano” Chavez thanked his family and friends. “First of all I’m really exited and really happy because my family is here. All the effort I put into my professional career, the sacrifice was really worth it because it wasn’t five years, it was a lot more. I’m really proud because this induction into the Hall of Fame is not for me, it is for all of you and all of Mexico.”
Tyson delivered a heartfelt speech as he thanked those who helped him during his career. “All this stuff started when I met Cus (D’Amato), and Bobby Stewart from Amsterdam in this reform school because I was always robbing people when I was a kid. All my life I watched these guys (motioning to the fighters on the dais). I look at them different. Why would I want to be like these guys I always say? I don't know.”
As Tyson continued to honor D’Amato, he warned he might get emotional. "I've got to be goofy about this or I'll get emotional up here. When I met Cus, we talked a little bit about money, but we wanted to be great fighters. Hey guys, I can't even finish this stuff. Thank you. Thank you."
Posthumous inductees of the Class of 2011 honored were Memphis Pal Moore, Jack Root and Dave Shade in the old-timer category; John Gully in the pioneer category; promoter A.F. Bettinson in the Non-Participant category and broadcaster Harry Carpenter in the observer category.
Root’s great great nephews John and David Deegan and Shade’s grandson Bob Shade accepted Hall of Fame honors for their loved ones.
Among the boxing stars on hand for the weekend were Hall of Fame Alumni Carmen Basilio, Carlos Ortiz, Ruben Olivares, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Ken Norton, Gene Fullmer, Jake LaMotta, Don Chargin, J Russell Peltz, Bert Sugar, Angelo Dundee, Lou Duva, Stanley Christodoulou, Jeff Fenech, Brian Mitchell, Michael Carbajal, Pipino Cuevas, Ricardo Lopez, Carlos Zarate, Chiquita Gonzalez, Barry McGuigan, Azumah Nelson, Jose Sulaiman, Bob Arum, Don King, Larry Hazzard and Wilfried Sauerland.
Other boxing celebrities in attendance included Livingstone Bramble, Marlon Starling, Leon Spinks, “Jesse” James Leija, John H. Stracey, Billy Backus, Dickie DiVeronica, George Chuvalo, Al Bernstein, Sergio Martinez, Erik Morales, Gasper Ortega, Jimmy Lennon Jr., Vinny Paz and Marco Antonio Barrera.
The Grand Marshals of the 2011 Parade of Champions were real life inspirations of the Academy Award winning movie The Fighter, brothers “Irish” Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund.
Mexican Fiesta Night – The Hall of Fame celebrated the proud tradition of Mexico’s boxing history. The evening featured video highlights and speeches from such luminaries as Chavez, Cuevas, Lopez, Zarate, Gonzalez, Morales, Beristain and Sulaiman. Jimmy Lennon Jr. recounted the many Mexican boxing bouts and stars he admired and announced during his career.
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE for the 22nd Hall of Fame Weekend festivities were entertainer Frank Stallone, OZ actor / Sirius XM radio host Chuck Zito, international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, promoter Lou DiBella, promoter Ahmet Ohner, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard, referees Kenny Bayless, Vic Drakulich, Tony Weeks and Benjy Esteves.