The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame is proud to announce inductees and honorees for the 39th Annual Induction & Awards Gala to take place at a dinner on Saturday, November 12, at the Westin Chicago River North. The program will be emceed by 2016 Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza and New York Mets Radio Announcer Wayne Randazzo.
The NIASHF Class of 2016 inductees include Nino Benvenuti, Mollie Ann Bracigliano, Vinny Del Negro, Paulie Malignaggi, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini & Joe Pepitone. Eduardo “Eddie” Greco will be honored as the 2016 Sportsman of the Year and Alexander Rossi will receive the Athlete of the Year award.
Flying in from Italy to accept his induction, Nino Benvenuti represents the International Division. Former boxer and International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, Benvenuti is considered by many to be the greatest boxer from Italy, with a record of 82 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw (tie) in 90 professional boxing bouts, with 35 wins by knockout. Benvenuti boasts world titles as Light Middleweight and twice as Middleweight (1967 and 1968) and earned the Welterweight division’s gold medal and the Val Barker trophy as the Games’ best boxer in the 1960 Olympic Games.
Accepting induction into the Contributor Division, Mollie Ann Bracigliano, a true sports collector, founded MAB Celebrity Services for the purpose of producing first quality autograph memorabilia shows. Since her founding, she has established the company as a leading show promoter and a premier full-service sports marketing agency throughout the entire country. Currently, she represents over 200 athletes with exclusivity to 50 of them. Athletes include Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas and John Smoltz, to name a few. Executing over 90 shows a year, Bracigliano is considered the country’s #1 person in sports marketing.
Retired basketball player and former NBA Coach, Vinny Del Negro, will be inducted into the Modern Division. Del Negro played for Jim Valvano at North Carolina State University, being named ACC Tournament MVP his junior year. Del Negro was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 29th pick in the 1988 NBA draft and played two years before leaving for Italy and Benetton Treviso for another two years. Del Negro returned to the NBA and played until he retired in 2001. He went on to coach the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers. Currently, Del Negro is an analyst with NBA TV.
Also, joining Del Negro in the Modern Division is professional boxer and commentator, Paulie Malignaggi. Nicknamed “Magic Man,”Malignaggi is a former IBF Junior Welterweight and WBA Welterweight champion. His record is 36 wins, 7 losses & 0 draws. Quick hands and a quick wit have helped make the “Magic Man” become a two-division world champion and an award-winning boxing analyst.
Former professional boxer, Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini will be inducted posthumously. Former world champion boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini will accept for his father. Beginning his professional career in 1937, Mancini was an aggressive fighter and was nicknamed “Boom Boom” because of his powerful punches from both hands. In May 1941, he fought reigning NBA Lightweight Champion Sammy Angott in a non-title fight, losing by a close split decision. A subsequent win over Dave Castilloux established Mancini as the #1 contender for Angott’s Lightweight title. Mancini retired with a final record of 45-12-3.
Former MLB first baseman and outfielder who played the bulk of his career with the NY Yankees, Joe Pepitone will round out the inductees for the Veteran Division. Pepitone also played several seasons with the Chicago Cubs and had short stints with the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. Pepitone is a 3-time American League All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove Award winner with the New York Yankees. Pepitone ended his 11 year career with a .258 batting average, 219 home runs and 721 RBI’s.
President of Greco & Sons, Eddie Greco, will be honored as the 2016 Sportsman of the Year. Outside of his support to the Italian Community, Greco has propelled Greco and Son’s as one of the top foodservice importer’s, manufacturers and distributor’s with over 7,500 customers and operating facilities in Illinois, Arizona and Wisconsin. Past recipients include Jerry Reinsdorf, Jerry Colangelo and Richard Parrillo Sr.
Racing superstar Alexander Rossi will be honored as the 2016 Athlete of the Year. Rossi currently races in the IndyCar Series for Bryan Herta Autosport with Andretti Autosport. Additionally, he serves as reserve driver for Manor Racing in Formula One. Rossi won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. Past recipients include Anthony Rizzo, Joey Votto and Jenna Prandini.
The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame is located at 1431 W. Taylor Street in Chicago. For advertisement opportunities or to purchase tickets for the gala dinner, please call (312) 226-5566 or visit www.niashf.org.