2015 HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CELEBRATION IN
BOXING'S HOMETOWN - CANASTOTA, NEW YORK
CANASTOTA, NY - JUNE 15, 2015 - Thousands of boxing fans from around the world, over 40 boxing legends of yesterday and today and members of the worldwide boxing community congregated in Canastota to celebrate the “sweet science” and honor the Class of 2015 as they joined boxing’s immortals.
The Official Induction Ceremony capped a fun-filled weekend in “Boxing’s Hometown.” The four-day weekend featured many exciting and memorable events including a golf tournament, cocktail party, banquet, a Night of 15 Rounders and boxing autograph card show. There were also a variety of activities on the Museum Grounds, including the popular "ringside lecture" question and answer sessions, celebrity fist casting, boxing workout demonstrations, raffles and a silent auction.
This year's living inductees were heavyweight champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, featherweight champion “Prince” Naseem Hamed, lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken, manager Rafael Mendoza, referee Steve Smoger, journalist Nigel Collins and broadcaster Jim Lampley. Living honorees received the official Hall of Fame Induction Certificate and gold Hall of Fame ring symbolizing their status as Hall of Famers.
Posthumous inductees of the Class of 2015 honored were Masao Ohba and Ken Overlin in the old-timer category; and publicist John F.X. Condon in the Non-Participant category.
Teiken Promotions spokesman Nobu Ikusuma accepted for Ohba’s family and Madison Square Garden’s Sam Rosen accepted for the Garden’s Condon.
WBA light flyweight champion Gushiken was the first living member of the Class of 2015 to accept his Hall of Fame ring. “I am honored to be inducted with these great champions and be among all of these great champions. I would like to go back to Japan and tell them how great it was here.”
Manager Mendoza was next to address the crowd as a Hall of Famer. “It has been 60 years for me inside the wonderful world of boxing. Maybe I don’t deserve to be here in the International Boxing Hall of Fame of Canastota, but I am enjoying every minute of it. This is like fighting for a real world title.”
Next to enter the Hall was referee Smoger. “Wow. It’s still surreal...My family and I have never been treated so nicely. This is a wonderful village with great people. It’s been a real dream come true…So it’s been a marvelous ride, I cannot thank you all for allowing me - commissioners, officials, brother refs, brother judges - for allowing me to pursue my passion. It has been an absolutely tremendous, tremendous ride.”
Former editor of The Ring Collins thanked his colleagues and also credited the boxers he covered. “None of this would be possible without the fighters. We would all be unemployed. Those are the people that I owe the most to. They took the punches, they suffered the consequences, I just chronicled what they did. So I feel that I am in a different league. I can’t even compare to any of those...Thank you everybody, especially the Hall of Fame.”
HBO’s Lampley was next to the podium to accept his gold ring. “Boxing is a canvas on which an endless stream of artists paint indelible images. I get the privilege of knowing them and attempting to describe what they do. Just for example, I would not be standing here today if it were not for the memories that Riddick Bowe and “Prince” Naseem Hamed provided. I might not have appealing described them if I hadn’t been watching and listening when Ray Mancini was delivering incomparable thrills before I began calling fights. So I am specifically grateful to all of them for the chance to be here today, especially Riddick who is a dear old friend and whose fights were always amazing drama on HBO.”
Charismatic featherweight champion Hamed was unable to attend due to an unfortunate illness concerning his wife, Eleasha Hamed. The Hall recognized his achievements and sent its best wishes to her for a complete recovery.
Brooklyn’s Bowe was next to officially join the Hall. “It is an honor to be here. I have thought about this day for 33 years and I am finally here. And guess what? I don’t know what to say! What I will say is I had a wonderful career… I want to thank Muhammad Ali because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. He said 'Come on sucker, dare to dream, come on sucker.' And I have been dreaming ever since.”
Last to join boxing’s immortals was Youngstown, Ohio’s “Boom Boom” Mancini. His two sons, Raymond Jr. and Leo, introduced him with emotional speeches reflecting on their famous father. Upon receiving his ring, Mancini said, “…I am sitting here thinking this ain’t bad for a kid from the south side of Youngstown, Ohio! Let me just say this, everything I am and everything I have ever been and everything I ever will be is because of two reasons: that’s my family and my city of Youngstown, Ohio. I am a product of that city. I love my city. I love the people. They carried me a lot farther than I wanted to go at times. Believe me they were there for every fight, they supported me through my amateur career, through my professional career. Those people are the reason I am where I am today, there’s no doubt.”
Among the boxing stars on hand for the weekend were Hall of Fame Alumni Nino Benvenuti, Jeff Chandler, Don Chargin, Joe Cortez, Pipino Cuevas, Larry Hazzard, Jake LaMotta, Terry Norris, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Palomino, J Russell Peltz, Aaron Pryor, Michael Spinks and Richard Steele.
Other boxing celebrities in attendance included Billy Backus, Marvin Camel, George Chuvalo, Gerry Cooney, Dickie DiVeronica, Dicky Eklund, Montell Griffin, William Joppy, Heather Hardy, Kevin Kelley, Amir Khan, Milton McCrory, Peter Manfredo Jr., Sergio Martinez, Ray Mercer, Michael Moorer, Hasim Rahman, Claressa Shields, Leon Spinks, Fernando Vargas, Micky Ward, Termite Watkins and Winky Wright.
The Grand Marshal of the 2015 Parade of Champions was the star of NBC’s hit drama Chicago P.D. Jon Seda.
“Maravilla” Retires – Former WBC light middleweight and WBC / WBO / The Ring middleweight champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez announced his retirement from boxing during the Banquet of Champions. A pro since 1997, Argentina’s Martinez informed the boxing world that he will officially hang up his gloves with a record of 51-3-2 (28 KOs). “Maravilla” was joined for his announcement by his team, including long-time advisor Sampson Lewkowicz, promoter Lou DiBella, Nathan Lewkowicz and Miguel De Pablos.
A Night of 15 Rounders – The Hall of Fame celebrated the 15 round era of boxing with an evening featuring video highlights and speeches from such 15 round prizefighters as Marvin Camel, George Chuvalo, Leon Spinks, Termite Watkins and Hall of Famers Nino Benvenuti, Jeff Chandler, Pipino Cuevas, Yoko Gushiken, Jake LaMotta, Ray Mancini, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Palomino, Aaron Pryor and Michael Spinks.
In This Corner – James “Smitty” Smith and his In This Corner television crew filmed a variety of interviews and “in-ring” segments to be aired on his program. The demonstrations – featuring referee Steve Smoger and Amir “King” Khan – saw the participants demonstrate the technique that led to their success inside the ropes.
Khan Donates Robe – Former WBA and IBF light welterweight champion Amir “King” Khan donated the white and gold boxing robe he wore in the Devon Alexander fight to the Hall. Khan, who has a pro record of 31-3 (19 KOs), made the donation during his first visit to Canastota.
WBO Supports Expansion – For the second year in a row, the Hall of Fame received a generous donation of $50,000 from the World Boxing Organization towards its Museum expansion plans. WBO president Paco Valcarcel made the announcement at the Banquet of Champions.
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE for the 2015 Hall of Fame Weekend festivities were referees Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks and Russell Mora, trainer Thell Torrance, heavyweight contender Eddie Gregg, former New York State Athletic Commission Chairman and Sirius/ XM radio host Randy Gordon and publicist Bill Caplan.