Jake LaMotta had them rolling in the aisles at the induction gala for the first batch of entrants to the brand-new New York State Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Howard Beach, Queens.
The 90 year-old Raging Bull tossed quips galore at Russo's on the Bay. "I'm very happy to be here with my very good friends," he cracked. "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." LaMotta headed up a class of fighters and fightgame persons such as Mike Tyson, Carmen Basilio, Riddick Bowe, Carlos Ortiz, Vito Antuofermo, Emile Griffith, Mike McCallum and the late Gene Tunney, Benny Leonard and Tony Canzoneri. Non-participant inductees include judge/HBO analyst Harold Lederman, 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.
Ring 8, the NY organization formed to give aid to and spotlight veteran boxers, sponsored the event. "We're all proud of those sitting on the dais for their achievements," NYSBHOF & Ring 8 president Bob Duffy said. "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."
The NYSBHOF will have a dedicated wall at the Waterfront Crabhouse and in the New York State Athletic Commission to commemorate inductees each year.