UNCASVILLE, CT (November 21, 2005) – The first class to be inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame will be honored on Thursday, December 1st at Mohegan Sun. The distinguished group, led by former world featherweight champion Willie Pep of Hartford, includes Marlon Starling, Johnny Duke, Louis “Kid” Kaplan, Christopher “Bat” Battalino and “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom.
Tickets for the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony reception and dinner are on sale now for $50.00 and available by calling Michael Mazzulli, Executive Director, Mohegan Tribal Athletic Department at 860.862.7583 or Sherman Cain, Boxing Writer, Manchester Journal-Inquirer at 1.800.237.3606 (ext. 321).
The evening features speeches and anecdotes from each inductee. Joe Tesetore, ESPN Boxing's blow-by-blow announcer and former sports director of WFSB-TV, Channel 3 in Hartford, will preside as the evening's master of ceremonies. Other notables scheduled to appear include: Scott Pemberton, one of the top super middleweights in the world from New Bedford, Massachusetts; Peter Manfredo, the Pride of Providence, Rhode Island and star of NBC's hit television show “The Contender”; Dana Rosenblatt, the former WBU middleweight champ from Malden, Massachusetts; Micky Ward, the former WBU welterweight champ from Lowell, Massachusetts (most famous for his trilogy with Arturo Gatti;) Jeff Fraza, local boxer from Haverhill, Massachusetts who recently appeared on “The Contender”; and Tony DeMarco, former world welterweight champion from Boston.
Willie Pep=s career spanned an incredible three decades. He fought 242 times, winning 230 of them. He won his first 63 fights after turning professional in 1941. Pep was known for his incredible elusiveness in the ring, thus the nickname, “Will o' the Wisp.” Pep, as history has documented, actually won a round without throwing a punch. Pep will be forever linked with main rival Sandy Sadler. They fought four times with Pep defeating Sadler once to regain his title in 1948. Pep fought until 1959 and made a brief comeback in 1965 before retiring one year later. Pep was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Marlon Starling is a former World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council welterweight champ. The Hartford native, who lived in East Hartford and South Windsor during his career, won his first 25 fights and finished with a 45-7-1 record with 27 knockouts. His stunning upset victory over Olympian Mark Breland in August of 1987 gave AThe Magic Man@the WBA title.
Johnny Duke has been a well-known trainer of youths at the Bellevue Square Boys Club in Hartford for four decades. A member of the National Golden Gloves Hall of Fame, Duke trained national amateur heavyweight champ Jimmy Blythe in 1958 and 1959 and trained Starling for part of his amateur and professional career.
Meriden's Louis “Kid” Kaplan, known as the “Meriden Buzzsaw,” was the featherweight king in the 1920s. Born in Kiev, Russia, Kaplan's family came to the United States when he was five and settled in Meriden. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Christopher “Bat” Battalino, born in Hartford, turned professional in 1927 and won the world featherweight crown in September of 1929. He defended his crown five times. One of his most memorable fights came at Madison Square Garden in 1930 in a 15-round decision over Kid Chocolate. Battalino's ring record was 57-26-3. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
Maxie Rosenbloom of Leonard's Bridge, CT fought 299 times winning 210 of his contests in a 16-year career. New York journalist Damon Runyan gave Rosenbloom the nickname “Slapsie” because of the fighters' penchant to hit his opponents with an open glove. He was the consummate defensive fighter and had just 19 knockouts to his credit. Rosenbloom was the busiest titleholder in ring history fighting 106 times during his 42-year reign. It was the equivalent of fighting one bout every 15 days. He won the light heavyweight title in 1930 over Jimmy Slattery. One of Rosenbloom=s biggest victories came over Jim Braddock, known as the Cinderella Man, in 1929. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame was formed in 2005 and is a non-profit organization. Its Board of Directors includes Glenn Feldman, president of Avon, Vice President and Secretary Michael Murtha (Mohegan Sun), Vice President Joe Letellier (Foxwoods) and Vice President and Treasurer Donald Trella of Suffield. Other board members include Michael Mazzulli (Mohegan Sun), Steve Epstein of Cromwell, Johnny Callas of Hartford, Michael Ortega of Hamden, Ralph Bergman of Norwich, Dan Schiavone of Wethersfield, Roland Roy of Glastonbury, John Burns of Windsor, Manny Liebert of West Hartford, George Smith of West Hartford, Sherman Cain of Manchester and Ken Ezzo of Beacon Falls.
Mohegan Sun Arena is the premier entertainment venue in Connecticut. Major sporting events, including championship boxing, college and professional basketball, tennis and bowling along with world-renowned entertainers have performed in this 10,000-seat venue. Mohegan Sun Arena was the site of the 2002 “Fight of the Year” – Micky Ward versus Arturo Gatti. The venue has also hosted Showtime Championship Boxing, ESPN2's Friday Night Fights and HBO's Boxing After Dark.
Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, is one of the largest, most distinctive and spectacular entertainment, gaming, shopping and meeting destinations in the United States. Situated on 240 acres along the Thames River in scenic southeastern Connecticut, Mohegan Sun is within easy access of New York, Boston, Hartford and Providence and located 15 minutes from the museums, antique shops and waterfront of Mystic Country. What began with the Casino of the Earth in 1996 has evolved into a legendary destination that now includes: the Casino of the Sky and over 300,000 square feet of total gaming space; The Shops at Mohegan Sun, featuring more than 40 retail shops and dining venues ranging from food court-style to gourmet; the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena for world-class sporting events and concerts, and an intimate Cabaret; and a 34-story luxury hotel, featuring 1,200 guest rooms and suites, premier meeting and convention space and a world-class spa. More information is available by calling 1.888.226.7711 or visiting mohegansun.com.