2016 HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CELEBRATION IN
BOXING'S HOMETOWN - CANASTOTA, NEW YORK
CANASTOTA, NY - JUNE 16, 2016 – Over 40 boxing legends of yesterday and today, members of the worldwide boxing community and thousands of boxing enthusiasts from around the world congregated in Canastota to celebrate the “sweet science” and honor the Class of 2016 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, Flashback Friday: A 1990s Night and boxing autograph card show. A variety of activities took place on the Museum Grounds, including the popular "ringside lecture" question and answer sessions, celebrity fist casting, raffles and a silent auction.
Inductees in Canastota included Mexico’s two-division champion Lupe Pintor and Panama’s two-division champion Hilario Zapata in the Modern category; judge Harold Lederman, commissioner Marc Ratner, journalist Jerry Izenberg and broadcaster Col. Bob Sheridan. 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 2016 honored were Puerto Rico’s multi-division champion Hector “Macho” Camacho in the Modern Category; Petey Sarron in the Old-Timer Category; and trainer Whitey Esneault in the Non-Participant Category.
Former president of the Boxing Writers Association Bernard Fernandez accepted for New Orleans’ Esneault and Camacho’s son Hector Camacho Jr. and mother Maria Camacho Matias accepted for Camacho.
“If a tree falls in the forest, and if there’s no one around, does it make a sound? I pondered that question about Whitey Esneault…I will say this: Whitey turned over Willie Pastrano and Ralph Dupas to (Angelo) Dundee. They were fully formed and Angelo took them to world titles. Pastrano is in the Hall of Fame. Angelo is in the Hall of Fame. Angelo trained Carmen Basilio and he trained a young heavyweight named Cassius Clay, who saw Pastrano and incorporated Pastrano’s moves into his own style. So if the tree falls in the forest, it does make a sound because Whitey is getting his day in the Hall of Fame,” said Fernandez.
“What time is it? ‘Macho time’ (audience responds). What time is it? ‘Macho time’ (audience responds). Well, on my father’s behalf, I got to witness first-hand what his life was and he poured his heart, blood and everything he had into the sport. He was a little crazy, you gotta admit it. But he was a hell of a person. Big hearted father. Big hearted man,” said Camacho, Jr.
“Thank you very much. He deserves what he’s going to get. Thank you my people, you are my people. Thank you to my son, a great, great son,” said Camacho Matias.
Journalist Izenberg was the first living member of the Class of 2016 to accept his Hall of Fame honor. “I have covered athletic events in Europe, Asia, Africa, and of course in the Western Hemisphere, but I have never been anywhere like Canastota, New York. Never! I am amazed at the way this town has accepted all of us…To be here is a gift for me. It’s a marvelous, marvelous gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t say thank you very often to anybody as my wife can tell you. Not enough times to her! But I will never forget this moment. I will never forget this day. And I will never forget any of you.”
Long-time broadcaster Sheridan was next to address the crowd as a Hall of Famer. “This is absolutely the most humbling day of my life. My very first prizefight that I ever saw, I was a sophomore at the University of Miami and we went on a certain night to the Miami Beach Convention Center to sell Coca-Cola for a fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston. I sat down my little Coke stand there and looked up and said, 'Man, this is professional boxing, how do you get into this?'...What a thrill it is for me and because of my family and friends and my military guys, today to borrow a quote from the great Lou Gehrig, 'I can consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth' to be in boxing."
Commissioner Ratner, who offered fans insight into the Bowe-Holyfield, Tyson vs. Holyfield and Mayweather vs. Judah fights he oversaw, was next to enter the Hall. “To say that I’m overwhelmed, in awe and excited would be a real understatement. But first of all, let me thank the fellow inductees, congratulations to them. To all the Hall of Fame guys that I’m just so in awe of, certainly to the memory of Ali. This is such a big day for me… It’s such an important day and I’m thrilled to be here. I’m thrilled to be in Canastota. Thank you very much.”
The first judge to enter the Hall, Lederman, thanked his family and friends: “OK Jim! I just want to thank a few people and tell my boxing story…First, let me thank my family. My wife of 52 years, I don’t know how the hell she puts up with me. I fill up the house with junk, you know boxing books, programs and bout sheets, you can’t walk in the damn house. You have to push the programs out of the way to get into my house. My wife of 52 years the lovely Eileen Lederman… Anyway thank you very much for having me, I’m thrilled to death. God Bless you all.”
As Panama’s Zapata approached the podium, fellow Panamanian and Hall of Famer Roberto Duran placed a boxing robe adorned with colors of the Panamanian flag on him “I would like to say thank you to God, my savior Jesus Christ, for being able to be here with all of you to share this moment. I would like to give a thank you to the Hall of Fame because God put my name in their minds to have me inducted here today on this special day… I also would like to thank everyone here for supporting me. Thank you very much. Thank you.”
Mexico’s Pintor was last to officially join the Hall. “Good afternoon. I am really happy and I am honored to be here on this day with you. It was a dream to me when I was a child when I began to box at 13 years old. And also I would like to thank Cuyo Hernandez who was my manager and who always taught me to be the best me. Also I would like to thank all of the Americans, to the US, and people that always helped me and that always supported my career. I’m really honored to represent my country and to be here today with you and to be part of this Hall of Fame. I would like to thank my family, my friends and especially my children. Thank you.”
Among the boxing stars on hand for the weekend were Hall of Fame Alumni Don Chargin, Joe Cortez, Pipino Cuevas, Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Jake LaMotta, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rafael Mendoza, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Ortiz, J Russell Peltz, Steve Smoger, Michael Spinks, Bruce Trampler and Pernell Whitaker.
Other boxing celebrities in attendance included Billy Backus, Marvin Camel, Gerry Cooney, Louis Curtis, Dickie DiVeronica, Dicky Eklund, Andrew Golota, Montell Griffin, Julian Jackson, Reggie Johnson, Milton McCrory, Christy Martin, Ray Mercer, Charles Mooney, Tracy Harris Patterson, Leo Randolph, Leon Spinks, Marlon Starling, John H. Stracey, Brian Viloria, Chuck Walker and Micky Ward.
The Grand Marshal of the 2016 Parade of Champions was Syracuse University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Quentin Hillsman.
THE GREATEST – Boxing fans and celebrity boxers alike mourned the loss of Hall of Fame legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away on June 3rd. There were special “Ringside Lectures” held on Friday and Saturday where fans shared the impact Ali had on their lives. Hall of Fame journalist Jerry Izenberg recalled his decades long friendship with Ali and Hall of Famer Col. Bob Sheirdan recalled covering Ali from ringside around the world. “The Greatest” was also remembered at events throughout the weekend.
1976 OLYMPIC REUNION – Members of the 1976 Olympic Boxing Team reunited in Canastota to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Montreal Games. Gold medal winners Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks and Leo Randolph, silver medal winner Charles Mooney and team members Louis Curtis and Chuck Walker were honored at the Banquet of Champions. Karla Davis (wife) and Samiha Davis (daughter) attended to represent gold medal winner Howard Davis Jr., who passed away in December. Each Olympian was presented with a commemorative medal from the Hall in honor of the anniversary.
FLASHBACK FRIDAY – The Hall of Fame celebrated the 1990s with an evening featuring a look back on the decade with speeches and highlights from those who played a part in boxing in the 1990s including Col. Bob Sheridan, Tracy Harris Patterson, Joe Cortez, Marc Ratner, Pernell Whitaker, Christy Martin, Kenny Bayless, Ray Mercer, Andrew Golota, Harold Lederman, Julian Jackson, “Irish” Micky Ward and Roberto Duran.
STATE OF NEW YORK – Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York Kathy Hochul toured the Hall of Fame during weekend festivities. In addition to taking in the many exhibits on boxing history, the lieutenant governor paid respects to Muhammad Ali while recalling his legendary fights in the MSG ring on display in the Hall’s Event Pavilion.
DONATIONS – Former heavyweight contender Andrew Golota donated a fight-worn robe and trunks to the Hall, while two-division world champion “The Hawaiian Punch” Brian Viloria donated the robe and trunks he wore in a 2012 WBO / WBA flyweight title bout against Hernan Marquez.
FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMER – Syracuse University football legend (#44), College Football Hall of Famer and Pro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little attended the Banquet of Champions.
IN THIS CORNER – James “Smitty” Smith, host of the popular In This Corner TV boxing interview show, handled emcee duties for the 2016 weekend. Tapping into his 40 years of boxing experience, “Smitty” hosted the “Ringside Lecture” question and answer sessions held on the Museum Grounds each day where fans have the unique opportunity to ask champions questions directly. The long-time radio and TV broadcaster also emceed Friday night’s Flashback Friday: A 1990s Night and Saturday evening’s Banquet of Champions.
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE for the 2016 Hall of Fame Weekend festivities were referees Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks and Jay Nady, judge Kermit Bayless, 1984 USA Olympic gold medalist Paul Gonzalez, Philadelphia contender Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, boxing manager Sean Gibbons, former New York State Athletic Commission Chairman and Sirius/ XM radio host Randy Gordon, the UFC’s Lawrence Epstein, Kirk Hendrick, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White and SHOWTIME Boxing’s Al Bernstein, Jimmy Lennon Jr, Paulie Malignaggi, Raul Marquez, Steve Farhood, Barry Tompkins and Brian Custer.