On Sunday, I was humbled. I was in a banquet hall with Pennsylvania Hall-of-Fame members and I had the opportunity to sit and talk with some of them and it made me feel fortunate. It was at Romano’s Caterers in Juniata Park where the local chapter of Veteran Boxers Association hosted its annual Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame induction banquet.
I want to congratulate the inductees: Tyrell Biggs, boxer; Charley Burley, boxer; Chuck Hasson, historian; Fred Jenkins Sr., trainer; John Mulvenna, trainer; Ivan Robinson, boxer; Mario Saurennann, boxer; Steve Smoger, referee; Norman Reds Torpey Sr., trainer; Roy Williams, boxer. The VBA also honored Gary Preston as Person of the Year for his contribution to the club.
This event was sponsored by local businesses such as: the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local Union No. 30; the Mattress Factory on Cottman Avenue; the Executive Board and Members of Teamsters Local 107; Ironworkers’ Local Union No. 401; the Carpenters Union, and many more. Without their help, events like this would not be possible.
The inductees brought plenty of well-wishers. Between those who bought tickets to cheer for Jenkins, Mulvenna and Torpey, there wasn’t much room left. I enjoyed seeing the support system that Smoger had–HBO’s in-house judge Harold Lederman and his daughter Julie, as well as another former judge-turned HBO commentator Steve Weisfeld and well-known referee Benjy Esteves.
A slew of former fighters turned out, including Kitten Hayward, Jimmy Deoria, Chris Guest, Buster Drayton, Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, Anthony Boyle, Steve Traitz, Sr., Steve Traitz Jr., Fred McMunn, Mark Goodwin and many, many more. Jackie Frazier-Lyde and her husband Pete Lyde were there. Perhaps the PA Hall of Fame should consider her for the ballot for what she has done for women’s boxing. It was a pleasure meeting her for the first time. There were wonderful speeches given, one by former Daily News boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, who introduced Robinson and spoke about his two wars with Arturo Gatti, both of which Robinson won.
Promoter J Russell Peltz spoke about Saurennann, whom he first met in 1965 while in college at Temple University. I did not know much about Saurennann, but after hearing Peltz speak, I realized how amazing this whole situation was. Peltz recounted how Saurennann, a solid lightweight and welterweight in the 1960s and 1970s, taught him always to respect “every man who ever strapped on the cup,” regardless of the fighter’s record. In my opinion, Peltz’ speech was one of, if not the best speech of the night. It made me realize how much I have to learn about this business and how excited I am being able to do so.
Sunday’s event was put together by historian and writer John DiSanto, a great guy who was unable to attend due to illness. Kudos to you, John–it truly was a wonderful night out.
* * *
On Saturday evening, Showtime televised the boxing card from Atlantic City where welterweight belt-holder Devon Alexander stopped over-matched Englishman Lee Purdy in seven rounds. The card was headlined by junior welterweights Lucas Mattysse and Lamont Peterson. Mattysse stopped Peterson in the third round.
That same day in Salt Lake City, UT, Shuler’s Gym’s own Stephen Fulton Jr., better known as ‘Scooter’ around the gym, won the National Golden Gloves championship at 114 pounds. Congrats!
Big things are happening the next two weekends. This weekend I will be watching ESPN’s Friday Night fights. The following Saturday, June 1, at Bally’s Atlantic City, junior lightweight Teon Kennedy, of Philadelphia, steps back in the ring for the first time in one year to face Carlos Vinan, of Newark, NJ, in the 10-round main event. It will be a good night of fights and a perfect way to start the summer!