CLASS OF 2019 INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME DURING
30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN BOXING'S HOMETOWN CANASTOTA, NEW YORK
CANASTOTA, NY - JUNE 9, 2019 – Four consecutive days of sunshine offered a beautiful blue backdrop for the Hall of Fame’s 30th Anniversary Celebration during the Annual Induction Weekend June 6-9th. Over 40 boxing legends of yesterday and today, members of the worldwide boxing community and thousands of boxing aficionados from around the world congregated in Canastota to celebrate the “sweet science” and recognize the Class of 2019 as they joined boxing’s immortals.
The Official Induction Ceremony topped a fun-filled four-day weekend. A host of memorable events took place in “Boxing’s Hometown” including 5K Race / Fun Run, golf tournament, boxing autograph card show, VIP Cocktail Reception, Parade of Champions and the Official Induction Ceremony on the Hall of Fame Museum Grounds. Evening events included Friday night’s Fight Night at Turning Stone and Saturday’s Banquet of Champions, both held at Turning Stone Resort Casino in nearby Verona, NY. 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 two-division champions Donald “Lone Star Cobra” Curry, Julian “The Hawk” Jackson and James “Buddy” McGirt; welterweight champion Tony DeMarco, promoter/manager/advisor Don Elbaum, referee/judge/administrator Guy Jutras, publicist Lee Samuels and broadcaster Teddy Atlas. Living honorees received the official Hall of Fame Induction Certificate and gold Hall of Fame ring symbolizing their status as Hall of Famers.
Journalist Mario Rivera Martino from Puerto Rico was inducted posthumously and his wife, Iris Montano, and WBO president Paco Valcarcel, accepted for him.
Canadian referee/judge/administrator Jutras was the first living member of the Class of 2019 to accept Hall of Fame honors.
“Good afternoon. A lot of people have forgot that there were an awful lot of problems going around in boxing...the organization that helped change that was the International Boxing Hall of Fame...The fact is that, now, some sources recognize that boxing is probably one of the cleanest sports on earth. We have to give an awful lot of credit to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.”
Al Valenti, son of Hall of Fame promoter Rip Valenti, introduced DeMarco and highlighted his importance to the city of Boston.
“I implore those who visit the city of champions to remember the one single champion that has represented our city like no other champion because he’s a true Bostonian. And today I get to call him a Hall of Famer…Ladies and gentleman, the undisputed welterweight champion of the world when there were only 7 world champions, the flame and fury of Fleet Street, Boston, Massachusetts, Tony DeMarco.”
“I’m so happy to see you people, I see my friends, my wife. Please give my wife a round of applause," said DeMarco. “I’m so happy to be here. I fought eight world champions. I lost to two. We won’t talk about that! It’s an honor.”
Ace Top Rank publicist Samuels was next to speak and credited his colleagues at Top Rank, where he has worked for the past three decades.
“I’m very fortunate to be standing here. In life you’ll find people that help you get to the next level. I wouldn’t be standing here without Bob Arum, the Hall of Fame owner of Top Rank, president Todd duBoef, director of operations Brad Jacobs, director of boxing Carl Moretti, our two incredible matchmakers Hall of Famer Bruce Trampler and Brad Goodman...It’s been a tremendous journey. I’m very honored.”
Veteran manager/promoter/advisor Elbaum recalled his introduction to boxing while accepting Hall of Fame honors.
“At the age of 7, my Uncle Danny, who was a boxer and big boxing fan, took me to my first fight. I was sitting in the first row and watched this fighter in the ring and I could not stop watching. When the fight was over, the exact words I said to my Uncle Danny was ‘That is the most beautiful music I’ve have ever seen and that’s what I want to do.’ And Willie Pep changed my life forever from that point on. I have boxed amateur and pro, I started promoting at 17…This is just an incredible situation and one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Former junior middleweight champion and undisputed welterweight champion Curry was the next member of the 2019 class to officially join the Hall.
“Thank you very much. I’m honored to be here. I want to thank my coach Paul Reyes, Ed Brophy and Bob Arum. I had a terrific amateur and professional career and I just want to thank those guys and thank you very much.”
The pride of the Virgin Islands, Jackson talked about his home as he accepted his gold Hall of Fame ring.
“Amazing. Wow. I’m honored to be here coming from such a humble life. St. Thomas is only 32 square miles and if you look on the map, all you’re going to see is a dot. But you know what? The Virgin Islands pack a big punch. We may be a small island, but, man, we have a big heart.”
Broadcaster Atlas spoke of his approach to calling a fight as officially entered the Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been given this honor today for my work as a broadcaster. I tried in some small ways to make the audience aware of something that perhaps they had not been aware of that would both add to their viewing of the bout and the appreciation they had for what the fighters were doing in the ring.”
An emotional McGirt credited his family during his acceptance speech.
“I warned you last night that I was going to cry. Today, my wife, my three daughters and my son, they said something to me that really got to me. They said, ‘We’re proud of you.’”
Among the boxing stars on hand for the weekend were Hall of Fame alumni Orlando Canizales, Stanley Christodoulou, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Larry Hazzard, Erik Morales, Carlos Ortiz, J Russell Peltz, Marc Ratner, Steve Smoger and Michael Spinks.
Other special guests in attendance included Jorge Arce, Paulie Ayala, Billy Backus, Iran Barkley, David Benavidez, Mark Breland, DeMarcus Corley, David Diamante, Dickie DiVeronica, Dicky Eklund, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Marvin Johnson, Junior Jones, “Jesse” James Leija, Milton McCrory, Michael Moorer, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Vinny Paz, Sugar Ray Seales, Earnie Shavers, Marlon Starling, Antonio Tarver and Micky Ward.
The Grand Marshal of the 2019 Parade of Champions was celebrated film and television star Holt McCallany, who starred in the FX boxing drama Lights Out and currently stars on the hit Netflix series Mindhunter.
FIREWORKS KICK OFF 30TH ANNIVERSARY – As the Hall of Fame celebrated its landmark 30th anniversary this year, the Hall of Fame kicked off the festivities with a spectacular fireworks show at the Canastota High School. Boxing fans, celebrity guests and community residents all enjoyed the colorful show.
CHAMPIONSHIP TRAINING CAMP LAUNCH – The World Boxing Council (WBC) recently mandated a bout between WBC 168-pound champion in recess David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez and current 168-pound champion Anthony Dirrell that will likely take place in August or September. Benavidez, who, at age 20, made history as the youngest super middleweight champion ever, kicked off training camp for his next title fight in Canastota with two workout sessions that included 9 rounds of sparring and shadow boxing.
FIGHT NIGHT AT TURNING STONE – Turning Stone Resort Casino in nearby Verona, NY hosted an exciting night of professional boxing promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing. The main event saw Cletus Seldin (24-1, 20 KOs) stop Zab Judah (44-10, 30 KOs) via 11th round TKO. After the fight, Judah was admitted to the hospital and was released on June 10th after being treated and given a good prognosis. The Hall sends its best to Zab as he continues to recover.
ESPN SPORTSCENTER IN "BOXING’S HOMETOWN" – Iconic broadcaster Teddy Atlas, who served as color commentator from 1998 until 2017 on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights, Wednesday Night Fights and ESPN’s Premier Boxing Champions telecasts, was interviewed on SportsCenter (link HERE) to discuss his induction. Making a special appearance during Atlas’ interview was his grandson, Teddy III.
RING ANNOUNCER DIAMANTE ADDS HIS VOICE TO WEEKEND – David Diamante, official ring announcer for Matchroom Boxing, attended his first Hall of Fame Weekend and assisted with announcing duties at various events. Diamante emceed the all-boxing collectors show on Saturday (June 8th) at the Canastota High School, announcing celebrity guests and providing information to fans throughout the day. He also handled live auction duties at the Banquet of Champions at Turning Stone Resort Casino, helping the Hall raise dollars by auctioning off such items as a trip to Canelo Alvarez’s next bout, Mike Tyson autographed items, a SHOWTIME fight trip and a training day with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach.
IN THIS CORNER – For the fourth year, James “Smitty” Smith, host of the popular In This Corner TV boxing interview show, handled emcee duties for the weekend. “Smitty” hosted the “Ringside Lectures” question and answer sessions held on the Museum Grounds each day where fans had the unique opportunity to ask champions questions directly. The long-time radio and TV broadcaster also introduced the celebrity guests at Fight Night at Turning Stone, at the Official Induction Ceremony and emceed Saturday evening’s Banquet of Champions.
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE for the 2019 Hall of Fame Weekend festivities were WBO president Paco Valcarcel, promoter Tuto Zabala Jr., referees Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks, Mike Griffin and Mark Nelson, Syracuse University Women’s Basketball Head Coach Quintin Hillsman, former WWE superstar Marc Mero, former NYSAC Chairman and Sirius/ XM radio host Randy Gordon and DAZN broadcaster Brian Kenny.