New York State Boxing HOF induction ceremony a KO
A sold-out crowd turned out this past Sunday night to honor 20 members of the Class of 2014 inducted into the third-year New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (NYSBHOF), sponsored by Ring 8, at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach, New York.
“This was our largest crowd we’ve ever had with more than 500 people,” Ring 8 & NYSBHOF president Bob Duffy said. “Everyone was so receptive, commenting about how much they enjoyed the ceremony, and there was a lot of emotion displayed. The whole point of starting the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame was to recognize New Yorkers in boxing and to honor them for their contributions. New York has been the centerpiece of boxing for the past 50 years. Some of our inductees may not have been international stars, but they helped make boxing what it is in New York. We wanted to do the right things and recognize the New York guys who made boxing was it is today.”
Living boxers inducted into the NYSBHOF were Tracy Harris (63-8-2, 43 KOs), the former WBC/IBF Super Featherweight Champion from New Paltz; former WBC/WBA Welterweight Champion Billy Backus (49-20-5, 23 KOs), of Canastota; former WBC Featherweight Champion Kevin Kelley, of Flushing, Queens; former WBC Featherweight Champion Juan LaPorte (40-17, 22 KOs), of Brooklyn; Huntington’s World Heavyweight title challenger Gerry Cooney (28-3, 24 KOs), Brooklyn’s two-time World Middleweight title challenger Mustafa Hamsho (44-5-2, 28 KOs) and Glen Cove’s Howard Davis, Jr. (36-6-1, 14 KOs), a 1976 Olympic gold medalist as well as Outstanding Boxer, and a three-time World Lightweight title challenger.
Posthumous participants inducted were two-time World Heavyweight Champion Patterson (55-8-1, 40 KOs), of Brooklyn, World Lightweight Champion Lou Ambers (91-8-7, 28 KOs), of Herkimer; three-time World Welterweight Champion Jack Britton (239-57-44), of Clinton; and World Featherweight Champion Terry McGovern (55-8-1, 40 KOs), of Brooklyn.
Living non-boxers inducted were ESPN boxing commentator and trainer Teddy Atlas, of Staten Island; promoter Lou DiBella (DiBella Entertainment), of Brooklyn; boxing historian and Showtime analyst Steve Farhood, of Brooklyn; trainer and Sunnyside Gardens matchmaker Gene Moore, of Queens; and boxing writer/historian Angelo Prospero, of Rochester.
Deceased non-boxers in the Class of 2014 are trainer/cutman Whitey Bimstein, of Manhattan’s Lower East Side; legendary trainer Cus D’Amato (Bronx and Catskill), who launched the career of “Iron” Mike Tyson as well as Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres; trainer William Muldoon (Belfast/Caneadea and Westchester County), who was also the first Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission; and manager Tom O’Rourke, of New York City.
HOWARD DAVIS JR.: “I want to thank Bob Duffy for putting on such a great ceremony. I want to dedicate my career to my father. I dedicated my gold medal (Olympics) to my mother who died three days before my first fight. A coach looked me straight in the eyes and said, what would your mother want you to do? The last thing she said to me was I better bring back that gold. I made a promise to my mother that I do it. I felt the only way I wouldn’t is if I died in the ring. I was into music when I was young. One day my father asked me if I wanted to go the movies with him. He didn’t say the name of the movie. It was in 1971, ‘AKA: Cassius Clay.’ It moved me to teats and to get up at 4:30 to run the next morning. I’d never run before. My father trained my amateur team and a few became pros. I fired him later in my career and I still regret that. He (Howard David Sr.) was a great trainer. I said was because he passed away three years ago due to complications from diabetes. I also want to dedicate this to my children who didn’t see me as much as could be because of my training. And to my wife, Carla Davis, who been there through the good and the bad. It’s wonderful being here. I got to see some guys I hadn’t seen in a long time like Tony Santana. We fought in the 1970’s Golden Gloves together but not against each other. Tracy Patterson, Kevin Kelley and Gerry Cooney, who I go way back with.”
TRACY PATTERSON: “I want to thank everyone for supporting this big event. Without a doubt I had a tremendous role model (father Floyd Patterson). Dad was my super hero. We’d see him put on a suit and go down to the city and then he’d be at the gym later that night. He was a very special man. I can’t thank him enough for what he did. I want people to know he did real good things for me that I’ll never forget. I miss him very much.”
JUAN LAPORTE: “I finally got here, huh? I want to thank these guys up here. I wish the best to the Class of 2014. This is my world, this is what I love. A lot of guys forget where they came from. I didn’t and you guys will always be with me. I miss a lot of Ring 8 guys, my trainer, Emile Griffith, who aren’t here today with us but they will always have my back.”
TEDDY ATLAS: “I have five tables of friends and family, some have come from Las Vegas and Florida, and I’m proud to have them here. Boxers don’t always get the same respect athletes in other sports do. All they need are loyal fans and boxing fans are the best. Cus (D’Amato) didn’t believe in long visits home because you’d be away from the gym. Nearly 40 years later in the fight game, I think I’ve done okay. I want to thank my wife, Elaine, and my children Nicole and Teddy. You can’t win any fight without a good corner and my family has given me the best. There are some people here today who are part of my life and family.”
GENE MOORE: “Who is Gene Moore? Nobody knew but I’m here anyway. Boxing’s a great game. I used to go to fights with my father in the ’40s…..1840s. I’ve been doing this 40 years and it’s been a great trip.”
MUSTAFA HAMSHO: “I want to thank everyone for this. I saw two guys here I go back 35 years with, John Turner and Bobby Cassidy, Sr. I’d also like to thank my family and friends for supporting me.”
STEVE FARHOOD: “I’m a little emotional right now. Any mentions of Nick Charles does that to me. This honor is very special to me. I’m a typical New Yorker and proud of it. I’ve never been away from New York for more than two weeks. This is special being inducted with friends like Teddy Atlas and Lou DiBella. And with the exception of Billy Backus, I’ve covered all of these guys. For 36 years it’s been boxing all day, every day for me and I’ve never been bored. I’ve been blessed.”
GERRY COONEY: “It’s great being up here today. I’ve had a great life. I see a lot of old guys who used to be fighters. I had some great fights and I’ll always be connected with Larry Holmes. I’m blessed, especially coming from my background. This is a miracle. There I was one night fighting in Madison Square Garden for the heavyweight championship of the world. What a life! I got to know fighters like (Willie) Pep, (Carmen) Basilio, (Jake) LaMotta, (Muhammad) Ali, (Kenny) Norton…. I was recently diagnosed with CRS. Do you know what that is? Can’t remember s***. I will forever be connected to you guys.”
LOU DIBELLA: “It’s an honor sitting here on this dais with so many New York men I’ve known and each I can call a friend. I’m proud to be part of New York boxing. We’re part of a great sports that sometimes stumbles and forgets it’s the king of sports with a lot of angels. Kevin Kelley got me started at HBO. He handed me a pencil with Flushing Flash’ and said there were a lot of hungry fighters like him to put on better shows. Guys like, him Tracy (Patterson), Arturo Gatti, and others. Teddy (Atlas) told me to be true to yourself and, Teddy, I hope I’ve done that. I bought two tickets for this dinner for my parents; my father passed away and my mother’s in the hospital with a broken hip. I’m going to bring this (belt) to her.”
KEVIN KELLEY: “Without you guys, like Howard Davis and Juan LaPorte, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have been in boxing. I’d like to thank everyone.”
BILLY BACKUS: “In my older days I’m getting a little emotional. When they (NYSBHOF) called, again, I got a little emotional on the phone. Thank you all. I appreciate being her with this class.”
Supporting the Class of 2014 were past NYSBHOF inductees such as Iran Barkley (2012), Mark Breland (2013), Jimmy Glenn (2012) and Harold Lederman (2013). Other dignitaries in attendance included boxers Vinnie Maddalone and Steve Bujaj, Showtime executive Gordon Hall and legendary trainer Al Certo.
Each attending inductee received a custom-designed belt signifying his induction into the NYSBHOF. Plaques honoring each class are on display at the New York State Athletic Commission and Waterfront Crabhouse. Ring 8 also plans to build a monument in Long Island City with every NYSBHOF inductee’s name inscribed.
The 2014 inductees were selected by the NYSBHOF nominating committee members: Jack Hirsch, Bobby Cassidy, Jr., Don Majeski, Henry Hascup, Ron McNair and Neil Terens.
All boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years in order to be eligible for NYSBHOF induction, and all inductees must have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers.
Go on line at www.Ring8ny.com for additional information about the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame.