CANASTOTA, NY – JUNE 10, 2018 – – Blue skies and sunshine blanketed upstate New York for the 29th Annual Hall of Fame Weekend June 7-10th. 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 2018 as they joined boxing’s immortals.
The Official Induction Ceremony capped a jam-packed four-day weekend. Many exciting and 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 heavyweight champion “Dr. Ironfist” Vitali Klitschko, four-division champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales and light middleweight champion Winky Wright and broadcasters Steve Albert and Jim Gray. German promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl was unable to attend due to a recent illness. 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 2018 honored were Sid Terris, ring announcer Johnny Addie and promoter Lorraine Chargin.
Terris’ son, Richard, accepted for the former 1920’s lightweight standout known as the “The Galloping Ghost of the Ghetto.”
“I can just imagine how excited he would have been about getting inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Terris.
Hall of Fame promoter and close friend to Lorraine Chargin and her husband, Don, J Russell Peltz, accepted for Lorraine, who became just the second woman elected into the Hall and, along with her husband, now the first husband and wife inducted.
“Sure Don made the matches. That’s what he did. But Lorraine did everything else. She rented the arenas, hired the security, the ushers, the ticket-takers, the ticket-sellers. She took care of the liability insurance, the hotel accommodations, the travel arrangements, the food vouchers, the publicity, the posters, the flyers. She did it all,” said Peltz.
WBO First Vice President John Duggan accepted Hall of Fame honors for Germany’s Kohl, who promoted over three dozen champions during his career.
“Klaus-Peter Kohl is a Hall of Fame promoter not just because of the hundreds of championship events and scores of champions he promoted. Peter’s great contribution to boxing was how he promoted boxing, with epic pageantry, triumphant music, monumental syle and spectacular showmanship,” said Duggan.
Veteran broadcaster and longtime blow-by-blow announcer for SHOWTIME, Albert was the first living member of the Class of 2018 to accept his Hall of Fame honor.
“Simply put, all I ever wanted was to be a sportscaster. There was no plan B,” said Albert, who called such legendary fights as Corrales vs. Castillo, Tyson vs. Holyfield I & II and Chavez vs. Haugen. “This is truly a culmination and validation of years of hard work and dedication in a job I always tried to do with honesty and integrity.”
SHOWTIME interviewer and ringside reporter Gray was next. Hall of Famer “Iron” Mike Tyson was on hand to present his close friend with his gold ring and certificate.
“Hi, my name is Mike Tyson and I am here to talk on behalf of my friend Jim Gray. He’s always been honest. He’s always been a straight shooter with me, even when I was wrong. And I was wrong most of the time,” said an emotional Tyson. “This opportunity and award he is receiving is way, way overdue. Well-deserved. I’m very proud of you.”
“Mike and I have a long history together. Somewhat ironic that the man who threatened to kill me in public is now inducting me into the Hall of Fame,” said Gray. “The Boxing Hall of Fame immortalizes all of these great fighters, who display tremendous pride, courage and talent. It honors those who enter the ring and achieve excellence. This magnificent honor that I’m receiving today comes with tremendous humility and a sense of, ‘How could this happen?’ I never took a punch.”
Slick southpaw from St. Petersburg, FL, Wright was next to speak and reflected on a career that took him around the world.
“I never wanted to be a professional boxer. I loved boxing and I always wanted to fight but I never wanted to be a boxer because I didn’t think I could do it. A champion, Mark Breland, came down to Florida for a training camp and he came to my gym. When I saw how everybody respected him and gave him so much love, I was like, ‘Man, I think I can do this.’”
“I had a great time in the sport. The sport took me to places, showed me things and I met people I didn’t think I’d meet. I love the sport of boxing. I want to thank everybody,” said Wright, who traveled the world fighting in United States, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Monaco, Argentina, England and South Africa.
Mexico’s first four-division champion, Morales accepted Hall of Fame honors next.
“I knew I wanted something. I wanted to be a great fighter, I wanted to be a great champion and I knew I was going to get there. As time went by, I made it through. I really had to work very hard and sacrifice to make 122, to make 126, to make 130 – I believe I won at 135, the decision didn’t go my way, and then I won the 140 pound title,” said Morales. “To every single person who made a difference in my life, they know who they are and I am very thankful for all they did for me. I want to thank my dad. He is the one who taught me, he is the one who made me what I became. But, as usual, it was my mom who decided that I was going to be a fighter.”
Former heavyweight champion and the Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, Klitschko, was the last member of the 2018 class to officially join the Hall.
“It’s not reality — it’s dream,” said Klitschko. “I never expected I will be in the Hall of Fame…I never expect one day to become world champion in the United States…I’m very proud to be together with boxing legends. It’s a dream to be in the Hall of Fame with Muhammad Ali, with Liston, Tyson and Holyfield.”
He also credited his family, particularly his brother, former heavyweight champion, Wladimir.
“I want to say a special thank you to one person. This person always followed me, always pushed me. I am more than sure, very soon, Wladimir Klitschko, you will also be here (Hall of Fame). I am very proud to have the strongest brother in the world,” said Klitschko. “We helped each other. I want to say thank you very much, brother, for everything that you did for me and for your support.”
Among the boxing stars on hand for the weekend were Hall of Fame alumni Marco Antonio Barrera, Don Chargin, Shelly Finkel, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Don King, Neil Leifer, Mike McCallum, J Russell Peltz, Marc Ratner, Wilfried Sauerland, Michael Spinks and Mike Tyson.
Other special guests in attendance included Billy Backus, Gerry Cooney, Miguel Cotto, Dickie DiVeronica, Dicky Eklund, Robert Guerrero, Jarrett Hurd, Julian Jackson, Reggie Johnson, Junior Jones, Wladimir Klitschko, Christy Martin, Kelly Pavlik, Leon Spinks, John H. Stracey, Antonio Tarver, James Toney, Tony Tubbs, Jessie Vargas, Micky Ward and reigning WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder.
The Grand Marshal of the 2018 Parade of Champions was Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and 11-Time Pro Bowl Selection Larry Fitzgerald.
FIGHT NIGHT AT TURNING STONE – Turning Stone Resort Casino in nearby Verona, NY hosted an exciting night of professional boxing promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and televised on ESPN. The main event saw Diego De La Hoya raise his unblemished record to 21-0 (10 KOs) with a seventh round TKO over tough veteran Jose Salgado.
IN THIS CORNER – For the third 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 and emceed Saturday evening’s Banquet of Champions.
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE for the 2018 Hall of Fame Weekend festivities were Golden Boy Promotions’ Eric Gomez and Robert Diaz, referees/judges Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks and Raul Caiz Sr. & Jr., trainer Andre Rozier, K2 Promotions / GGG Promotions promoter Tom Loeffler, former NYSAC Chairman and Sirius/ XM radio host Randy Gordon, heavyweight contender Bert Cooper and ShoBox:The New Generation executive producer Gordon Hall.
A large contingent came to Canastota to celebrate the induction of 2018 honoree Jim Gray. In addition to family members, among those who made the trip to pay tribute to the long-time broadcaster included Basketball Hall of Famer “Dr. J” Julius Erving, Pro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little, legendary broadcaster Bob Costas, United States Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, marketing consultant and author Stedman Graham, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, Vegas Golden Knights owners Gavin and Joe Maloof, Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and political consultant and pollster Frank Luntz.