Canastota Greets – The International Boxing Hall of Fame 2016 induction ceremonies kicked off Thursday in Canastota, New York and this quaint upstate New York town is ready to host the boxing world all weekend. The ceremonies are scheduled for June 9th-12th and many of the fighters and fans are already here.
The IBHOF building was ground zero as the activities included question and answer sessions with fighters, including some of the inductees already present. Tents were set up outside with vending and a large stage was set up. Front and center was Mexico’s Lupe Pintor, who answered questions at length through a translator. Pintor is one of three inductees this year in the modern competitor class along with Hilario Zapata of Panama and Hector Camacho of Puerto Rico. Other speakers included former welterweight world titlist John Stracey of England as well as 1976 U.S. Olympian Leo Randolph.
Afterwards, many of the fighters migrated to Graziano’s Bar across the street, and the boxers enjoyed rubbing elbows with the fans late into the night. The list of fighters and boxing people present by nightfall included “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Leon and Michael Spinks, Pipino Cuevas, Ruben Olivares, Jake LaMotta, Marvin Camel, Andrew Golota, Dicky Eklund and referee Tony Weeks. Fans from all over the world including Mexico, Great Britain, Ireland, Costa Rica, Canada and Japan were present to pay their respects.
Canastota is the proud home of the IBHOF. Former welterweight and middleweight champion of the world Carmen Basilio, who hailed from the Canastota area, and his family were part of the driving force behind the opening of the Hall of Fame in 1990. Since then, the annual festivities have gotten bigger and bigger. There is talk of an expansion of the IBHOF facilities in the future.
If you are a fan of boxing and have debated making the trip to Canastota, it should be considered a “must see” or “can’t miss” type of event. Canastota is out of the way and there is also a small Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, but do not allow those factors to hold you back from a truly unique boxing experience.
One day very soon the IBHOF will expand and the event will continue to grow in breadth and scope. The weekend festivites have already grown a great deal since it’s inception but the atmosphere the IBHOF provides is one that allows a lot of accessibility to the fighters. This will probably change over time. But there are really no other major sports in the 21st century left where the athletes are so close to the fans. It is what makes the Canastota IBHOF induction weekend a truly unique experience, almost a throwback to a simpler time. Now is the time to make the trip!
Friday morning sees more V.I.P. arrivals and the day gets started early, at 8:30 AM with a 5k run that the entire town will be out to see. The weekend calendar is full through Sunday when the induction weekend finishes up with a Parade of Champions down the town’s main street. Check back throughout the weekend for more coverage here at The Sweet Science and at our friends The Boxing Channel.