The New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame celebrated with its 35th annual induction dinner this past Thursday night at the lavish "Venetian" banquet hall in Garfield, NJ.
Commissioner Larry Hazzard, veteran referee Frank Cappuccino, as well as Lou, Dino and the entire Duva family, were just a few of the many boxing luminaries on hand—intertwined with the room-swelled capacity crowd.
The Hall of Fame's president, Henry Hascup, also a boxing historian and an accomplished fight announcer (second to none), served as the event's Master of Ceremonies.
All those in attendance were treated to stories of boxing's past by such legends as former light heavyweight world champion Jose Torres and welterweight champ Mark Breland (who also was a 1984 Olympic Gold medal winner). Former WBC light welterweight title holder Billy Costello thanked his family, his friends, and Alex Ramos for his work helping fighters (Ramos is the founder and president of the Retired Boxers Foundation - which helps ex-fighters in need), and wasn't too comfortable behind the microphone.
"Man, that was tough," exhaled the Kingston, NY native Costello (referring to his acceptance speech), who then exclaimed "fighting wasn't as hard as that." The fighting might not have been as tough for Costello, who retired in 1999 with a stellar professional record of 40 wins (22 KO's) against only two losses, but I'm sure that Billy's opponents didn't feel the same way!
Philadelphia great Rodney Moore (now working with at risk youths in his "Fight to Learn" non-profit organization), William "Red" Berry and Carl Hyde (posthumous) were the other exceptional fighters inducted.
Also honored for their great contributions to the sport were referee Earl Morton—himself a very talented amateur boxer, Rhonda Utley-Herring with the NJ State Atheltic Commission, Donna Duva-Brooks of Duva Boxing, legendary trainer Tommy Parks (posthumous) and Ken Condon—president of Bally's Atlantic City. Condon's insightfulness, determination and vision were significant factors in bringing championship boxing to Atlantic City.
19-year-old Chris Green was selected as the NJ amateur boxer of the year. Green is currently ranked No. 1 by USA Boxing. Charlie Young and Hassan Tyler were named the NJ amateur coaches of the year and Fran Benoist was tabbed as the state's amateur official of the year.
The Hall of Fame's "Man of the Year" award deservedly was bestowed upon Leigh Lazorwitz. Leigh, whose father Roy Lazar fought professionally as a heavyweight out of Paterson, NJ and compiled a proficient 56-12-2 record during the 1930's, has been involved with the organization for over 15 years and dedicates his efforts towards the good of boxing and the betterment of the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame.
Revered Philadelphia trainer Richard "Slim Jim" Robinson passed away in early November. Robinson's memory and his contributions to boxing will be acknowledged during a "Power Productions" fightcard on January 7th, 2005, at the Philadelphia National Guard Armory, dedicated to Robinson. The NJ Boxing Hall of Fame will take part in the ceremony and present "Slim Jim's" award to the Robinson family.
It was another successful event for the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. Not only for its annual recognition and tribute to the boxers and people in boxing who have made a positive difference, but more importantly for the tremendous work that the organization does: the contributions to other boxing non-profit organizations, the organization's work with amateur boxing programs and all the community service performed. The New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, bringing dignity and respect to the sport of boxing.
Mike Indri is the New Jersey State representative for the Retired Boxers Foundation.