By Boxing Bob Newman
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
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After an ominous opening Thursday afternoon under a steamy downpour, the 2009 edition of the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend festivities got underway. Despite clashing with the BWAA awards dinner in New York City on Friday, and the Cotto-Clottey mega-fight Saturday, also in the Big Apple, a steadily growing throng of hard core boxing fans flocked to title town in Canastota, NY for the annual June event. Friday’s first highlight was the traditional fist casting of inductees as well as first time visiting boxers. Pioneered using the same principle that a dentist uses to make a cast of a patients teeth, the fighters and inductees grease their right hand, plunges it into a bucket with a rubber mix, which after several minutes, hardens into a firm rubber, leaving the impression of the subject’s fist. The mold will then be filled with a plaster cast and “bronzed” later, forever enshrining their fist in the hallowed hall.
On hand Thursday for the honor were 2009 inductees former undisputed heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, IBF bantamweight champ Orlando Canizales, WBA/IBF Jr. lightweight champ Brian Mitchell, journalist Hugh McIlvanney and matchmaker Bobby Goodman. Visiting stars who underwent the casting were WBC welter champ Andre Berto, former two-time welter champ Kermit Cintron and two-time welter champ Paul Williams. Certainly, late arriving inductees Akihiko Honda (promoter) and Larry Merchant (broadcaster) will do the honors upon their descent upon the grounds.
Friday evening continued with the annual Night of Rising Stars gathering. On hand to talk about their entrance into the square ring were a slew of today’s young champs and contenders heavy contender Kevin “Kingpin” Mitchell, 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder, IBF supermiddle champ Lucian Bute, Kermit Cintron, Andre Berto and Paul Williams. Rounding out the evening with his take on the state of the boxing game was hall of fame trainer Emanuel Steward.
Today’s event include the 5K fun run, boxing collectors memorabilia show, celebrity gold tournament, lectures on the IBHOF grounds, the VIP cocktail party and the gala banquet. The induction ceremony will follow the parade through the streets of Canastota Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.