Connecticut Hall of Fame Inducts Its Fifth Class

Story by Kirk Lang- The fifth annual Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which took place at the Mohegan Sun Casino, saw the induction of six new members, and former light heavyweight contender “Iceman” John Scully, at 42 years of age, became the youngest ever inductee. Scully had a successful amateur career (gold medals at 165 pounds at the Ohio State Fair, national P.A.L. and Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials), a solid pro career (going the distance in his lone world title fight and giving Michael Nunn all he could handle over 12 rounds in 1995) and throughout the years, was always serving as a mentor to young amateur fighters.. Now retired from the ring, Scully has since become a well-respected professional trainer. In 2006, he led Jose Antonio Rivera to victory against WBA world junior middleweight champion Alejandro “Terra” Garcia. The “Iceman” currently works with top cruiserweight Matt Godfrey as well as NABF featherweight champion Matt Remillard.

Referee John Callas had the honor of presenting Scully with his induction plaque and told the 200-plus in attendance that Scully is “someone who is uncorruptable in a sport where, unfortunately, corruption has a past.”

Scully was clearly honored to be entering the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. After snapping a few photos of the crowd from his vantage point, he said, “You have to understand, as a fan of boxing, Connecticut has always been the big thing for me.

“When I first started boxing, I didn’t care about the world. The world was too big. I worried about and I idolized - literally idolized - the guys from Connecticut.”

Scully said it was an honor to come up in the gyms, and spar with, guys who were tough professionals at the time, “in particular Muhammad Shabazz, Milton “Cuda” Leaks, Papo Figueroa and Troy “Schoolboy” Wortham.”

“They hurt me, they punched me, they cut my lip, but I relished it, and I couldn’t wait to get back and learn from these guys and be like them,” said Scully, who in addition to training fighters, also does some work as a boxing analyst for ESPN Classic.

Scully went on to say that working with amateur boxers has always given him the most satisfaction and it is something he will never stop doing.

Among others, he mentioned a longtime friend, younger in age, named Orlando Cordova, whom he started training when Cordova was 14.

“He’s 31 years old now,” said Scully. “He’s 13 years into a military career (Marines). He’s married with two kids, a decorated officer.”

Scully said Cordova recently mentioned him in a military newspaper.

“He named me as the person that guided him so that was as big, or bigger than any award I’ve ever received, including this,” said Scully. “That was huge for me, to bring him up and have him say I helped him in that manner.”

Before the 2009 Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame inductee wrapped up his speech, he made sure to mention, among others, his wife Rita, as well as his father, Gerald Scully.

“My father used to bring me to the gym every day until I got my (driver’s) license, for about three years, five days a week, winter, summer, spring and fall,” said Scully.

His dad would sit in the car outside the gym and read the newspaper to pass time while he waited for his son.

“I would come out and it would be freezing cold and he’d be asleep in the front seat of the car,” said Scully, adding, “I didn’t realize it at the time how special that was. A lot of parents, they don’t put that time in. But my father did that every day, until I got my license.”

Scully asked for a round of applause for his father and everyone obliged.

In addition to Scully, the two other living inductees were former Connecticut State middleweight champion Sal DiMartino, 80, and 92-year-old Dan Cosgrove, who won 31 of 34 fights between 1931 and 1934. Cosgrove was very humble when accepting his induction plaque.

“It’s an honor but I never expected it,” he said. “Matter of fact, I was very surprised when I got the news because, I want to tell you, there were a lot of fighters around who were better than I was and they aren’t in the Hall of Fame yet.”

Cosgrove kept his remarks brief. He became a politician after his fighting career and noted that he learned in speaking that “in order to be heard, you have to stand up and be seen, and in order to be appreciated, you have to sit down and let the people go home.”

Cosgrove, the last inductee of the night, was met with cheers. Those inducted posthumously were former light heavyweight champion Jack Delaney, former New England welterweight champion Julie Kogon and Vito Tallarita, a well-known matchmaker who was involved in Marlon Starling’s first 20 pro bouts and was also the matchmaker for all five of Sugar Ray Leonard’s in New England, four of which took place in Connecticut (three in Hartford, one in New Haven).

Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood served as the night’s master of ceremonies and did a great job. He didn’t talk about himself, like some masters of ceremonies can tend to do. Rather, he kept the focus on the people being honored.

In addition to the inductees, undefeated “Bad” Chad Dawson, widely considered the top light heavyweight in the world, was honored by the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame as “professional of the year.” In 2009, Dawson defeated both Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in rematches of bouts he won in 2008. Eighteen-year-old Luis Rosa, Jr. accepted the “amateur boxer of the year” award; timekeeper Phyllis Roy - who with her husband Roland, also helps run amateur boxing in Connecticut and beyond - was honored with the William Hutt “Official of the Year” award; and Paul Cichon, director/trainer of boxing for the Manchester P.A.L. from 2003 to early 2009, received the “Contribution to Boxing” award. Current NABF featherweight champion Matt Remillard is a product of the Manchester P.A.L.

The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame’s fifth annual induction ceremony included a cocktail hour, dinner, dessert, a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. The winner of the 50/50 raffle walked away with $515. The other half of the money raised goes towards the hall of fame, which doesn’t pinch pennies on plaques for its inductees. Two plaques are made up for each individual. One goes home with the respective inductee or his/her family, and the second plaque is showcased on dedicated wall space for the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame inside the Mohegan Sun Arena. It was said the hall spent approximately $3,000 on plaques for the November ceremony.

Article posted on 19.02.2010

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