Photos and report by Boxing Bob Newman
Day two of the 29th annual IBF convention got underway on Wednesday with a tour of one of the most emotional and recognizable memorials, one associated forever with the state of Hawai’i – Pearl Harbor. In a blow that struck worse than any knockout punch thrown by a boxer in the ring, Japanese pilots crippled the U.S. naval fleet with a surprise attack on December 7, 1941, a day that then president Franklin Roosevelt declared “Will live in infamy.” Over 150 IBF delegates took in the moving day-long tour.
First off was the visit to the sight where the U.S.S. Arizona still lies in the harbor, along with over 1000 sailors still on board, beneath the waters of the harbor. Even the most hardened fight fans and boxing officials, couldn’t help being moved to tears either during the movie footage viewed in the theater in the memorial park, or especially standing within the memorial itself, straddling the sunken hulk of the battleship.
A trip to the de-commissioned battleship U.S.S. Missouri on Ford Island Naval Base was next on the list. The tour guide “Toby” was an actual former U.S. navy sailor stationed aboard the Missouri from 1954-57. The highlight of the tour was witnessing the actual spot on deck where the signing of the instrument surrendering the war by the Japanese in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
The evening held the “Meet the Champions” Cocktail event back at the Rainbow Room. IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker started things off on a somber note with a traditional ten count of the bell, honoring fallen multi-divisional champion Johnny Tapia and IBF mandatory Super Bantamweight challenger Thangthong Kiettaweesuk. Tapia at one time held the IBF titles at Super Flyweight and Featherweight.
Also, hometown hero Andy Ganigan, known as the “Hawaiian Punch” was posthumously remembered at the tolling of the bell. Ganigan, a former NABF lightweight champ lost his life on May 2, 2012 while still convalescing from permanent brain and other injuries suffered from a March 23, 2010 attack outside a restaurant.
The very special guest of honor was the IBF’s second ever Super Middleweight champion Chong Pal Park, who made the trip over from his native South Korea. Park said a few words to the gathered delegates, expressing his pride at being the second IBF champ in the division created by the organization back in 1983. Park took the title from inaugural champ Murray Sutherland on July 22, 1984, and made eight successful defenses before abdicating the throne at the end of 1987.
Another special guest was former WBA Minimumweight champion Katsunari Takayama. Takayama recently went against the political grain of his native Japanese Boxing Commission and twice challenged IBF Minimumweight champion N’kosinathi Joyi in South Africa, losing on a third round No Contest (due to a cut) and a twelve round decision. The JBC does not recognize the IBF. Takayama took the microphone however, and thanked the IBF for its support of him and vowed to win the IBF title in the future.
Awards were presented to Mexican promoter Hector Garcia on behalf of his fighters Arely Muciño (Flyweight) and Katia Gutierrez (Mini Flyweight), who both tied at three each, for the most defenses of their IBF titles in the female category. Gutierrez also won the award for IBF female champion of the year.