Report & photos by Boxing Bob Newman
Boxing is a family. We can’t say “fraternity,” as it wouldn’t be politically correct. There are a growing number of very fine female fighters practicing the “Sweet Science” as well. So family it is. That being said, perhaps the induction ceremonies on the hallowed grounds of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota should be called a “reunion.” Each year a few more members are recognized by the family, perhaps coming to the reunion in this sleepy little town in upstate New York for the first time. Such was the case again this year- the twenty fifth such reunion. Fittingly, this silver anniversary was as shiny as one could hope with ring warriors Joe Calzaghe, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya heading up the 2014 class of inductees, all in their first year of eligibility.
As is the case more often than not, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect the entire weekend over. Weather in this area of New York can be unpredictable at best any time of year, but boxing family members enjoyed this reunion to the max with the sun shining and temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s for the most part all four-day weekend long. With many events taking place out doors- the 5K run, the celebrity golf tournament, the annual parade of champion or just perusing the museum grounds and walking across the street to Graziano’s restaurant for a bite or beverage, Mother Nature was agreeable.
After the parade, the crowning moment of the induction ceremonies got under way in a noticeably more streamlined fashion. The honored inductees as well as other invited boxers were announced at a quicker pace as they strolled the red carpet. It was an organized, time efficient effort on the part of the IBHOF staff. Surprise attendees included two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming, Lucian Bute, John John Molina, Frank Tate and Lucia Rijker along with former favorites Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Michael Spinks, Wilfredo Gomez and Micky Ward.
Parade grand marshal Nina Davuluri made opening comments surrounding diversity in sport, noting the wide cultural span within boxing. The native Syracusan, Dauluri is of Indian ancestry.
IBHOF ballot chair Herb Goldman started the induction proceedings as always by reading the names and achievements of the deceased inductees:
Tom Allen- Allen reigned as Heavyweight champion of America from 1873-1876 after coming to the USA from his native England. He campaigned under both London Prize Ring and Queensberry Rules.
George “K.O.” Chaney- Started out as a bantamweight in 1910. The 5’1″ southpaw was known as one of the hardest hitting little men ever, retiring in 1925 with 80 knockouts.
Eugene Corri- This standout referee was third man in the ring for such luminaries of his era as Tommy Burns, Sam Langford, Georges Carpentier, Eugene Criqui, Jimmy Wilde and Mickey Walker.
Charles LeDoux- The French bantam and featherweight held wins over Eugene Criqui, Jim Driscoll and Johnny Coulon on the way to nearly 100 wins in 133 bouts.
Mike O’Dowd- World Middleweight champ from 1917-1920, O’Dowd held wins over Ted “Kid” Lewis and Al McCoy as well as boxed “no-decisions” against Billy Miske and Jack Britton.
IBHOF president Don Ackerman then resumed the honors for the living inductees in the non-participant, observer and modern categories.
Neil Leifer- The first photographer ever to be inducted, Leifer started with Sports Illustrated at 18 years old in 1960, landing 170 cover shots along the way. His most iconic work is the ever lasting image of Muhammad Ali standing over a a stricken Sonny Liston in their 1965 rematch. His favorite is actually the overhead remote shot of Ali walking away from a supine Cleveland “Big Cat’ Williams in the Houston Astrodome in 1966. Leifer now works as a full time film maker, producer and director.
Richard Steele- Steele transitioned from swapping leather in the ring as a U.S. Marine, to officiating contests as a referee for over thirty years. Steele worked such notable bouts as Hagler-Hearns, Pryor-Arguello II, Tyson-Bruno I, Hagler-Leonard and Chavez-Taylor I among his 170-plus title fight career.
Graham Houston- A journalist for over 50 years, Houston began in 1963 and was editor of the esteemed Boxing News by 1973. Houston moved on the become editor of Boxing Monthly, American editor of Boxing Weekly, a columnist for the Vancouver Sun and authored “The Story of the Heavyweight Champions.” Houston currently pens columns on his own Fightwiter.com as well as Fightnews.com.
Barry Hearn- A top British promoter for 30 years, Hearn founded Matchroom Sport, adding boxing to his promotional empire along with darts and snooker. Hearn broke through with Bruno-Bugner, adding such stars as Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins, Nassem Hamed and Lennox Lewis to his promotional roster along the way. Current stars in Hearn’s fold include Carl Froch, Ricky Burns, Scott Quigg and Olympic gold medalists Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell.
Joe Calzaghe- “The Pride of Wales” is on the short list of undefeated boxers to enter the Hall. Starting with the WBO Super Middleweight title, Calzaghe made a division record 21 defense adding the IBF, WBC and WBA belts along the way. Calzaghe fulfilled a life-long dream by coming to the United States and annexing the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight crowns, defeating Roy Jones, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins to cap a perfect 46-0, 32 KOs record.
Felix “Tito” Trinidad- Trinidad captured five belts in three weight divisions, unifying the Welter (IBF & WBC) and Jr. Middle (WBA & IBF) titles. A true puncher, Trinidad beat fellow 2014 inductee Oscar de la Hoya and world champions Fernando Vargas, David Reid and William Joppy en-route to a 42-3, 35 KOs ledger.
Oscar “The Golden Boy” de la Hoya- After capturing Olympic gold in the 1992 Barcelona games, de la Hoya won ten belts in six weight classes in a sixteen year career. Beating fellow Hall of Famers Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Arturo Gatti, de la Hoya retired with a 39-6, 30 KOs record and runs the powerful Golden Boy Promotions.
Stay tuned for the full induction video coming soon!