The fifteenth annual International Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place in Canastota, New York, June 10-13. Fifteen new members were enshrined, which brings the total number to 285. The living inductees were referee Stanley Christodoulou, sportswriter W.C. Heinz, promoter J. Russell Peltz, and fighters Azumah Nelson, Carlos Palomino, Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Daniel Zaragoza. For those who have attended these annual ceremonies, whether fight people or fans, the second weekend in June has become the “highlight of the year.”

As you first arrive on the museum grounds, you see recognizable people everywhere. Fighters and fight people from the past and present are walking around, signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking to the fans and to each other. Stories, some amusing, some sad, are continuous. The BBQ grill, under the tent, is fired up and stays that way throughout the weekend. The most popular item there is the Basilio sausage sandwich and sometimes Carmen himself or his wife Josie are there serving (or eating).

Many of the greats take the stage and microphone and have “fireside” chats with the crowd. Sometimes ring adversaries sit side by side retelling their bouts from years past. Questions are posed and answered, then pictures taken and autographs signed. The gift shop does a brisk business. People spend time in the museum looking at the pictures, equipment, plaques, and watching films of the old fights. Thousands of fans attend the autograph card show at the high school, or the golf outing with BBQ chicken dinner.

Friday night is the live boxing show at the nearby Turning Stone Casino, with a special seating section for the boxing legends. They are introduced one by one to the crowd. There is a 5K race open to anyone who wants to race. Interestingly this year’s race was won by 2004 inductee Daniel Zaragoza, with fellow inductee Carlos Palamino coming in third. It shows that the competitive spirit still lives on in these old fighters. There is a celebrity fist casting and public workouts (this year, current world champs Winky Wright, Cory Spinks, Mickey Ward, and Antonio Tarver). The old Greystone Chapel hosts the VIP Gala Cocktail Reception; the Banquet of Champions dinner is held at the Rusty Rail Party House. Each night everyone hangs out at Graziano’s to eat, drink, and tell stories. On Sunday is the Parade of Champions (this years’s grand marshall was singer Tony Orlando, a boxing fan who told several touching stories), and the Induction and Enshrinement ceremony, followed by the farewell celebration. Everyone leaves, looking forward to next year, the events of the weekend to remain in their minds and hearts.


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Category: Steve's Corner

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