Jake LaMotta photo, shot in 2009, courtesy of Teddy Blackburn
NEW YORK (April 3, 2012) - Boxing stars joined a sold-out crowd of 500 at this past Sunday's inaugural New York State Boxing Hall of Fame ("NYSBHOF") induction dinner, sponsored by Ring 8, at Russo's On The Bay in Howard Beach, New York.
"Boxing in New York will not be forgotten," NYSBHOF founder Tony Mazzarella said. "Boxers, cornermen, judges, promoters, announcers and others in boxing are being honored."
Inducted into the first NYSBHOF class were "Sugar" Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Mike Tyson, Carmen Basilio, Riddick Bowe, Carlos Ortiz, Vito Antuofermo, Emile Griffith, Mike McCallum and posthumously Gene Tunney, Benny Leonard and Tony Canzoneri.
Non-participant inductees are judge/HBO analyst Harold Lederman, coach/instructor Steve Acunto, trainer/cutman Jimmy Glenn and, posthumously, trainers Gil Clancy and Ray Arcel, The Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer, New York Daily News boxing reporter/cartoonist Bill Gallo, and referee Arthur Mercante, Sr.
"We're all proud of those sitting on the dais for their achievements," NYSBHOF & Ring 8 president Bob Duffy commented. "The biggest joy, for me, is for what Mrs. Arcel, Mrs. Gallo and the members of the Canzoneri, Tunney, Mercante, and Clancy families said to me. They left a track record, like those sitting up here, but they're so happy that their inductees were not forgotten. Ring 8 specifically had these one-of-a-kind belts (all inductees received) designed for the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame."
Inductees attending the gala festivities were LaMotta, McCallum, Griffith, Ortiz, Antuofermo, Acunto, Glenn and Lederman. (See acceptance speech quotes below.). The families of Robinson, Canzoneri, Tunney, Arcel, Gallo and Mercante were also represented.
The inductees were selected by a six-member NYSBHOF nominating committee comprised of Jack Hirsch, Steve Farhood, Henry Hascup, Bobby Cassidy Jr., Ron McNair and Neil Terens. All but Cassidy (family vacation) were award presenters during this festive boxing affair.
Boxing dignitaries in attendance included world champions Iran Barkley, Juan La Porte, Junior Jones, Mark Breland and Mia St. John; boxers such as Vinnie Maddalone, Renaldo Snipes, Brian Adams, Michael De La Rue and Gasper Ortega; promoters Kathy Duva (Main Events) and Cedric Kushner (Gotham Boxing); boxing judges Julie Lederman, Steve Weisfeld and Glenn Feldman; referees Steve Smoger and Mike Ortega, New York State Athletic Commission chairperson Melvina Latham, International Boxing Hall of Fame matchmaker Bob Goodman, World Boxing Council Cares Jill Diamond, Gleason's Gym owner Bruce Silverglade and trainer Tommy Gallagher.
Popular ring announcer, David Diamante, rushed back from Jamaica to serve as the event's Master of Ceremonies. The traditional 10-count was given in honor of the late Bert Sugar. A special presentation - autographed portrait of Lederman - was made on behalf of HBO's boxing group and Harold's friend and HBO partner, Jim Lampley, sent a congratulatory message that was read.
Commemorative plagues listing the names of the inductees and NYSBHOF board members and nominating committee will be on display at the Waterfront Crabhouse, New York State Athletic Commission, and NYSBHOF board member Dr. Jerry Lynn.
All boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years, in order to be eligible for NYSBHOF induction, and all inductees had to have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers.
Go on line at www.Ring8ny.com for additional information about the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame.
Acceptance Speech Quotes
(L-R) Jake LaMotta & Bob Duffy (photo by Peter Frutkoff)
Jake LaMotta (90 years old): "I'm very happy to be here with my very good friends. I fought 'Sugar' Ray Robinson so many times it's a wonder I don't have diabetes. He broke my jaw but you can see he never broke my nose. The greatest pound-for-pound fighter who ever lived is 'Sugar' Ray Robinson. It's unbelievable I fought him so many times. Right now, I finally made it when they made the movie, Raging Bull. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and Robert DeNiro was so great in the movie. If you asked me, DeNiro is the greatest fighter who ever lived. How'd he play me? He sparred and shadow-boxed 1000 rounds and when I was finished with him he could have turned pro."
Mike McCallum (Photo by Peter Frutkoff)
Mike McCallum: "It's an honor to be here today and be part of this great ceremony. New York City is big! I came to American and the greatest place there is. I'm in the International Boxing Hall of Fame but, why not the New York State? Now I'm here. It's a wonderful feeling."
Vito Antuofermo (Photo by Peter Frutkoff)
Vito Antuofermo: "I'm very honored to be here today and to be in the first induction in the first New York State Boxing Hall of Fame. As a young boy, I struggled in a new country. Boxing is much more than a sport to me. I learned about the world and myself. The only limit a person has is one on himself. I thank boxing. I am very happy to be part of New York boxing and to have some success here. I know the Hall of Fame will grow and be successful. I congratulate my fellow inductees."
Carlos Ortiz (Photo by Stacey Verbeek)
Carlos Ortiz: "I'm proud to be here and to be inducted onto the New York Hall of Fame. I love it! I want people to remember me and that's beautiful. It's nice to be here. I love New York."
Harold Lederman (Photo by Peter Frutkoff)
Harold Lederman: "Today I'm an immortal...April's fool. Floyd Mayweather claims he's be the greatest fighter who ever lived. He's not for two reasons: No. 1, he has to fight 158 more times to catch Sugar Ray Robinson; No. 2, he's never fought in New York. The greatest fighters all fought in New York. Boxing has been a huge part of my life and home. I owe a lot to some of the boxing commissioners here."
Steve Acunto (Photo by Stacey Verbeek)
Steve Acunto (95 years old): "I'm profoundly honored to accept this recognition today. I'm almost overwhelmed to see all these boxing people today. Every kid should have an idol to occupy his time. When I was a kid a bought a book written by Gene Tunney and I got the bug."
(L-R) Tony Mazzarella, Jimmy Glynn, Mevina Latham (Photo by Peter Frutkoff)
Jimmy Glenn: "I thank everyone for coming out for me. And they really came out for me."