Vinny Maddalone used one word to personify Star Boxing Founder & President Joe DeGuardia when introducing Ring 8’s Promoter of the Year at Sunday’s ceremony at Russo on the Bay: “loyalty.”
Said the former heavyweight contender of his longtime promoter: “This guy is a special guy. He has been around the business for a long time. His father and his uncle were pro fighters so this is a big thing for me to present to him. I respect this man in every way possible. Joe is the type of guy that has your back no matter what, he is always there for you and that is the best quality that he has in him.”
In accepting the award, DeGuardia said that his relationship with Maddalone is “indicative of boxing because boxing truly is a family. We might butt heads against each other and disagree with each other at times, but we are all here thick and thin through the years.”
“I look out here, and the ring to me have been my four corners of life. I grew up since I was a baby in that ring. My father took me every single day to the gym when I boxed.
“I look around the room and I see four corners of my life. I look from when I was boxing. Randy (Gordon) here in one corner who called my Golden Glove championship fight. Then I look out and I see Benji (Esteves), who was with me when .. I was on the… U.S. team to go fight in Norway, Benji took us there at the time. He was taking care of the team.
“Junior (Jones) is out here, who was with us fighting that night on the same team together. Junior was 17 at the time, I was older than him and Junior was coming up to me, ‘Joe, what am I going to do. I have to fight this guy who is 26, he is a man’ and Junior was nervous. He went and knocked the guy out.
“I looked at another corner and I see Mike (Trapani), a guy who has been in boxing all his life also and … I remember how we would go to Villa Maria … helping kids together. I look at another part of the room and I see Dave Berlin sitting here and now he is the Executive Director of the New York State Commission. Dave and I tried cases against each other … when I was with the District Attorney’s office and he was with Legal Aid. This is what it is really about, it is a family, a true family. And I truly feel it.
“There are so many examples of people that have made their lives better from it. Boxing has really made so many lives better. I really appreciate the sport. To me it is my love, my passion.”
DeGuardia’s Co-honorees at Ring 8 Awards on Sunday included:
Woman of the Decade – Hon. Melvina Lathan
NYS Fighter of the Year — Sadam Ali
NYS Female Fighter of the Year — Heather Hardy
Uncrowned Champion Award — John Duddy
Cutmen of the Year — George Mitchell and Mike Rella
Board Member of the Year — Billy Stigaro
Trainer of the Year — Andre Rozier
Community Service Award — Kevin Collins and Gerard Wilson
Sponsor of the Year — George O’Neill
Official of the Year — Carlos Ortiz, Jr.
Amateur Official of the Year — Christina Vila
Long and Meritorious Service Award — Jack Hirsch
Profile of Courage Award — Paddy Dolan
Prospects of the Year — Wesley Ferrer and Danny Gonzales
Voice of Worldwide Boxing — David Diamante
Service to “Your Country” Award — Cpt. Ronald McNair, Jr.
From New York Golden Gloves champion in the ring to the rise of Star Boxing ignited by Antonio Tarver’s victory over Roy Jones, Jr. to guiding Chris Algieri to challenge world champion Manny Pacquiao for the Welterweight title, DeGuardia has done it all.
A product of the Bronx, DeGuardia attended Fordham Prep and earned his undergraduate degree from Fordham University. He then attended Hofstra Law School, where he graduated at the top of his class. DeGuardia now resides in Westchester County, New York.
He has popularized the Rockin’ Fights series at The Paramount in Huntington to sellout crowds on a regular basis, and is the promoter of such standouts as world champions Chris Algieri and Demetrius Andrade, as well as Zac Dunn, Cletus Seldin, Joshua Clottey, Yuniesky Gonzalez and Joe Smith, Jr.
Ring 8, the Veteran Boxers Association of New York, is the not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping former professional boxers in need of financial assistance. Its motto is “Boxers helping boxers.”