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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
N.Y. Boxing Hall of Fame inductees announced

By Michael Woods

Even the casually aware boxing fan might know there is a boxing Hall of Fame. There are two, actually, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., and the World Boxing Hall of Fame, located in Riverside, Calif.

The Canastota Hall is the more accepted of the two.

New York-area fight fans might be pleased to know that a New York State Boxing Hall of Fame, in planning for 14 months, is off the ground. A luncheon introducing the inaugural class of inductees was held at Gallagher's near Times Square on Tuesday.

Tony Mazzarella, a board-member of the Ring 8 club, a N.Y. group formed in 1954 to help and honor former boxers, has been trying to get a HOF for years now. He's offered space at his restaurant, the Waterfront Crabhouse in Long Island City, for plaques and memorabilia. A physical location is being hunted down.

Here's the first class to be inducted. It includes 12 boxers, and eight non-boxers.

"Sugar" Ray Robinson, "Iron" Mike Tyson, Jake "Bronx Bull" LaMotta, Carmen "Upstate Onion Farmer" Basilio, Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, Carlos Ortiz, Mike "Bodysnatcher" McCallum, Gene "The Fighting Marine" Tunney, Benny "The Ghetto Wizard" Leonard and Tony Canzoneri. Also, judge/HBO analyst Harold Lederman, coach/instructor Steve Acunto, trainer/cut-man Jimmy Glenn and, posthumously, trainers Gil Clancy and Ray Arcel, Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer, New York Daily News boxing reporter/cartoonist Bill Gallo, and referee Arthur Mercante Sr.

Ring 8 president Bob Duffy announced plans for the kickoff dinner. "We plan to do this every year," Duffy said. "Our first introduction dinner will be at Russo's On The Bay in March of 2012. We have a wall at Waterfront Crabhouse which will list our Class of 2012 and another at the New York State Athletic Commission. We started this to honor New York fight people."

The inductees were selected by a six-member NYSBHOF nominating committee made up of Boxing Writers Association president Jack Hirsch, Steve Farhood, Henry Hascup, Bobby Cassidy, Jr., Ron McNair and Neil Terens.

All boxers had to be inactive for at least three years and all inductees had to have lived in New York State for a significant portion of their careers.

Lederman had a couple people wiping the onion juice out of their eyes when he took to the mike and said, "I'm so honored to be in this first class. I've asked myself how did I get in the same class as Sugar Ray Robinson," as he choked up.

The event wasn't diminished at all by another press conference, run by famed promoter Don King,  held at the same time at another location. Media turnout was a bit less than expected because of that, though. Word was King was going to cut his presser short and head over to the Hall session, but as the Gallagher's group exited the building, King was nowhere to be found. We can assume King was somehow melding the works of Aristotle, the deeds of Crispus Attucks and the plight of Rodney King together into a delicious oratorical stew that perhaps even had something to do with the sweet science.