Boxing Insider Notebook: Ali, King, Smith, O’Connor, Boxing Hall of Fame, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 14th to March 21st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Sadam Ali to Face Liam Smith on HBO
Sadam “World Kid” Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) will defend his WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship against hard-hitting former world champion and No.1 contender Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. The event takes place Saturday, May 12 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has always displayed the skills of a future world champion. The 29-year-old pride of Brooklyn, N.Y. held multiple regional titles and scored important wins against the likes of Francisco “Chia” Santana, Luis Carlos “El Potro” Abregu and former interim WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Johan “El Terrible” Perez. Though suffering a setback in a welterweight title fight against Jessie Vargas, Ali silenced his doubters by moving up to 154 pounds to defeat future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto in Dec. 2017. The newly-crowned WBO Junior Middleweight Champion will face a tough challenge in Smith, a former holder of the same 154-pound title.
“It felt great to accomplish my dream of becoming world champion,” said Sadam Ali. “I’m excited to defend my title and to demonstrate that it is not up for grabs. Liam Smith is a great fighter and I’m sure he’ll be ready, but so will I.”
Smith, the first of an impressive stable of brothers to win a world title, is a 29-year-old native of Liverpool, England. After scoring 20 impressive victories as a professional, Smith defeated John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson via seventh-round technical knockout to capture the WBO 154-pound title that Ali currently holds. Smith then faced Canelo Alvarez in front of over 50,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Smith lost the title in an impressive show of heart and determination, and after three consecutive victories, he is ready to regain the title that was once his.
“I’m very happy that we’ve got this fight,” said Liam Smith. “I’m looking forward to pitting myself against a good fighter in Sadam Ali, a former Olympian and now world champion who is coming off the back of a good win against Miguel Cotto. I’m confident going into this fight. I know I’m naturally the bigger man, and that will come into play, especially in the type of fight that I think it will be.”
“Sadam Ali climbed onto the world championship stage with one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he snatched the WBO Junior Middleweight World Title from Four-Division, Six Time World Champion, and Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Being in the ring with a hungry fighter with a world championship belt on his resume like Liam Smith will be nothing new to Ali. Sadam will prove yet again he’s someone to watch out for in the division.”
“This is Liam’s chance to reclaim his world title,” said Frank Warren. “He’s come through two hard fights against Liam Williams to earn his shot, and he’s done what he set out to do. When he lost his belt against Canelo Alvarez, Liam said he would be a world champion again, and on May 12 he will deliver on that promise.”
Ali vs. Smith is a 12-round fight for the WBO Junior Middleweight Championship presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Frank Warren. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING” and Casa Mexico Tequila. The fight will take place Saturday, May 12, 2018 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Host of the May 12 event, Turning Stone Resort Casino is a Forbes Four-Star Award-winning destination resort, which continues to distinguish itself as a premier venue for fight-of-the-year level boxing. The May event will mark Turning Stone’s 25th nationally-televised boxing event, cementing the resort as a leading destination for nationally-televised combat sports. Turning Stone features world-class amenities including four hotels, more than 20 signature restaurants and dining options, two spas, an all-new 125,000 square foot Las Vegas style gaming floor, a cabaret-style Showroom, a 5,000-seat arena, five golf courses, several bars, cocktail lounges and nightlife venues with live entertainment every weekend.
Tickets for this highly anticipated matchup go on sale Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 am ET and are available from $95 and $75 for ringside seats and all others priced at $55 and $45, plus any applicable fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office in person or by calling 315-361-7469 or online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).
Don King Brings Isaac Ekpo and Rafael Mensah to America to Train for Upcoming World Title Fights
World Boxing Association (WBA) Mandatory challenger Isaac Ekpo (32-3, 25 KOs) from Abuja, Nigeria, and Rafael “Sweet Pea” Mensah (31-0, 23 KOs) from Accra Ghana both recently arrived to the U.S. with a new manager, new direction and first full training camps with trainer Stacy McKinley, to prepare for their upcoming world title fights.
Ekpo arrived in Germany Sunday for a world title rematch against WBA Super Middleweight Champion Tyron Zeuge. Their first bout, almost a year ago to the day on March 25, 2017, ended in controversial fashion and a loss for Ekpo.
Mensah has been in serious negotiations to challenge WBA Super Featherweight Champion Alberto Machado (19-0, 16 KOs).
Both Ekpo and Mensah arrived in the U.S. having made little to no money while fighting in Africa. Both fighters have a new manager. Stacy McKinley is training both for the first time.
“My old manager and promoter in Ghana, Anthony Karmah, (of Landmark Boxing), did good by taking me to where I am but he cheated me and is cheating all the boxers.” Explained Ekpo, also a 2004 Olympian. “He never paid me for the fights. He told me the fights, all of my fights, were for building my career. He prefers to have the money all to himself and the boxers are suffering, which is very bad. I was the mandatory challenger to (WBO Super Middleweight Champion Robert) Stieglitz in 2013. I was No. 7. We fought 12-rounds and was paid only $12K – for a world title fight! I argued with him but it didn’t matter. After the fight I went back to Africa, and signed with Don King. When I came to America in December, Don King told me to put the past behind and move forward. My coach is there beside me taking good care of me. He and Don King don’t treat me like a boxer they treat me like I am their blood.”
“In Ghana I was the champion, but no, I didn’t get any money,” said Mensah, who as an amateur was the Captain of the Ghana National Team. “The promoter there signed me and I don’t get money. Why? Somebody chopped my money. Every time I fight he told me he was building my record for me. I don’t know why. I fought thirty-one fights, big fights. I won the African title twice and the African Boxing Union title. I fight in front of huge crowds in Ghana – it is like the Las Vegas of Africa, it is the Mecca. Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Azumah Nelson, Agbeko – they all fought there.”
Ekpo went further: “I would fight under Don King Productions and Don would send the money to my manager and I would never see the money – my manger keeps saying, still, he is building my record and I never see the money. When I fought Zeuge my manager got the money from Don King but he took two months to pay me – he said Don King never paid him. My manger was trying to destroy the man’s (Don King’s) name and it’s not like that. When my wife passed, I was looking for some money to help my family and Don King sent my former manager $10,000 to give to me. I only received $2000 of it – my manager kept the rest.” Ekpo lived on his marginal soldier’s salary. “When I came to train in America in December, Don King told me to put the past behind and move forward. My coach is there beside me taking good care of me. He and Don King don’t treat me like a boxer they treat me like I am their blood. Don King gave me money and I shared it and said this money is going to change a lot of things in my life.”
Mensah on his arrival to the U.S.: “I was in Ghana and I was told I got this opportunity to fight Machado and I may not get this opportunity again so I said OK, I will come to the America to see Don King for the first time. I signed with Don King three years ago with my old manager and never net him. My old manager would not let me meet Don King. My contract with my old manager was up in November and my new manager told me to come to the US to get better training – he convinced me to move here. I came to US a month ago and Don King said, “Rafael, now that you are here, how can I help you?” I said ‘yes, I will take this title to give to you. Don’t worry about that.’ I am here in the USA training and it will not be a problem. I am the man, I am Sweet Pea.”
Ekpo wants this message sent across to Zeuge regarding the rematch – “Train hard because I am coming. My name is ‘Grenade’ and when I explode no living thing will be left near me – everything will fall, and he is going to fall. I promise him and by the grace of God he is going to fall.”
In the first Zeuge-Ekpo fight, in front of a Zeuge hometown crowd at MBS Arena in Pottsdam, Germany, Zeuge (21-0-1, 11 KOs) from Berlin, was cut in round three from an Ekpo left hook.. “I gave him a left hook and it caught him but they changed it to a head-butt. It wasn’t a head-butt like they called it. It was a left hook. I watch the fight every day,” said Ekpo. The decision would go to the judges’ scorecards, whom all had Zeuge ahead at the time (48-47, 49-47, 49-46). “In round 5 he was very tired, but he survived the round. When the round was over he called the doctor to stop the fight. When they stopped the fight my coach and I were celebrating, but next the referee said ‘no, it is a technical decision.’ Why technical decision? The guy said he can’t fight. I’m not tired. I didn’t give up. If he stopped the fight that means I am the winner because I never give up but the champion said he is not going to fight anymore.”
Ekpo had gone into the fight with extreme adversity, having lost his wife (a 32-year-old Nigerian National soccer star) during childbirth on March 9, just two weeks before the fight. “After my wife delivered she started bleeding and from there she passed away,” explained Ekpo. “She left the baby behind. I gave her the mommy’s name and she is living right now with her grandmother. ” Ekpo trained only one week with his new trainer and five weeks total for the fight. Ekpo thought long and hard before deciding to go through with the fight. “I needed the money to take care of my family. Coach Stacy McKinley said to me ‘you’re good, you can beat this kid.’ I fought Zeuge with pains in my heart.”
“This time my hands are my referee and my judges. I am going to fight Tyron Zeuge as if he is the one that killed my wife,” said Ekpo. “Last time I took all of his best punches. Now I am stronger and I’m going to hit him hard – harder than before, like a sledgehammer. This time I am going to knock him out in his hometown, right in front of his people. He is not going 12-rounds with me. I promised my wife before she died that I would bring the title back to my baby. I love her so much. Every time I think about her I shed tears.”
Machado on his immediate future: “My next fight will be against Machado. I know Machado and I know I can beat Machado. There is no doubt that Mensah can beat him. When I saw Machado I said ‘yes, I can beat you.’ You are not somebody that can beat me. You cannot beat Rafael Mensah. I will come and maybe not knock you out but I will beat you in boxing. I will teach you boxing very well. If I don’t knock you out I will teach you a boxing lesson.”
“I came to America and signed with a new manager and he exposed everything,” explained Ekpo, who moved to the United States on December 27. “When I first learned what had happened, I wanted to go back to Africa and fight him but Don King said no. He knows he can’t even call me any more and he’s scared. Everything is exposed. The last time I was at his office and he hid then ran out the back door. Don King gave me money and immediately I told my new manager to send it to my family and he said ‘why are you crying?’ The amount of money Don King gave me will change a lot of things and that makes me happy. Now I’m going to give him the title. That’s the thing I’m going to use to pay him back.”
“Now I am ranked #2 in the WBA and now I am waiting for Machado,” said Machado. “I came here to train and listen to my new manager. I left my 4-month old child and my wife to come to America because of Machado. When I arrived Don King said, ‘Rafael, now that you are here, how can I help you?’ I said ‘yes, I will take this title to give to you. Don’t worry about that. I am now focused about the business of being in the ring. I don’t see anybody coming to beat me. My new manager is here to help me. God has done everything for me and now I listen to Don King and my manager. So now everything will be all right for me in America.”
Nelson Aiyelabowo, current manager of both Ekpo and Mensah: “We are very grateful for how Don King has welcomed us. Isaac is having a great camp and we are ready to add to a stable of champions Don King has promoted over the past decades.”
MTK Global Opens MTK NewCastle as UK Presence Continues to Grow
MTK Global is pleased to confirm the opening of a new UK branch – MTK Newcastle in Gateshead.
With MTK Global’s UK bases in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland already thriving, the proud fighting city of Newcastle has joined the party.
The north-east has produced several success stories in the ring, such as Glenn McCrory’s world cruiserweight title glory down the road in Stanley in 1989. World title challengers John Davison and Billy Hardy are also local stars of yesteryear.
With interest in boxing and MMA on the rise, MTK Newcastle will provide excellent facilities for the stars of tomorrow while remaining an invaluable recreational facility for the local community.
MTK Newcastle Gym Manager and coach, Brad Tarren, said: “It’s exciting news for fighters in the north-east of England as we look to create combat teams under the MTK banner.
“MTK Newcastle adds to the growing entity of the MTK Global brand and we are certainly excited for the future prospects this opportunity brings.
“The gym will also remain as a recreational facility welcome to all members of the public – regardless of their level or experience.”
MTK Global CEO Sandra Vaughan added: “We are so proud to have added a Newcastle headquarters. It’s a fantastic city with a rich history in combat sports.
“We look forward to Brad and his team nurturing the local talent. This move is further proof of MTK Global’s commitment to improving opportunities for fighters in as many areas as we can.”
Follow MTK Newcastle on Twitter @mtknewcastle
National Boxing Hall of Fame Gala 2018
The National Boxing Hall Of Fame will be holding its Annual GALA April 28th, 2018 from 11:00am – 3:00pm, at Quiet Cannon Event Center, 901 Via San Clemente, Montebello, CA. Tickets are $75 and available at www.nationalboxinghalloffame.com All 2018 Inductees are confirmed to attend event this year! Limited seating available and tickets MUST be paid in advance to attend.
The 2018 Inductees are:
◦Eddie Mustafa Muhammad
POSTHUMOUS (Family will attend)
RISING STAR AWARD
◦2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas
DON SULAIMAN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
HOWIE STEINDLER AWARD
◦Danny “Little Red” Lopez
◦Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez
BOBBY CHACON GIFT OF LOVE AWARD
Boxing Fans, don’t miss this great Boxing event with legends of our sport and future stars, for more information please contact [email protected] .
Danny O’Connor Defends WBC Title Against Steve Claggett
After coming off a of a great KO win, earning the vacant WBC Silver Intercontinental Title against rising Queens prospect and previously undefeated, DANNY GONZALEZ, (then, 14-0 5KO’s) at STAR BOXING’S Slugfest at the Sun, at Mohegan Sun Arena, in November, DANNY O’CONNOR (now, 30-3, 11KO’s) put his title on the line at the against an extremely tough Canadian in STEVE CLAGGETT (now, 26-5-1, 17 KO’s).
Claggett came into last nights title bout, just off of a hard fought win against previously unbeaten, and fellow highly touted Canadian prospect, YVES ULYSSE JR. (then, 14-0 9KO’s).
O’Connor vs. Claggett was seen live on PPV, and was the main event bout of a great night of boxing on St. Patricks day, from the House of Blues Boston.
For the opening two rounds, O’Connor and Claggett maintained a fast, competitive pace, with give and take action by both fighters. However, in the third round, O’Connor began to find his rhythm, landing strong combinations while alluding the attempted offense of Claggett.
O’Connor continued to use his combinations to score, while keeping his foot on the outside of Claggett, dodging most attempts the Canadian threw. However, in the seventh round, Claggett threw a perfect counter right, that sent O’Connor to the canvas. O’Connor managed to shake off the knockdown, got his legs under him, and finished the final two rounds strong, earning a unanimous decision vicory, and successfully defending his WBC belt.
Promoter JOE DEGUARDIA had this to say about O’Connor’s strong outing, “Danny O’Connor showed true guts, putting his title on the line against a very tough fighter in Steve Claggett. Danny used his skill and more importantly, great resilience, getting up from a late round knockdown to defend his title. This was a very solid victory for Danny against a tough opponent, and we look forward to what is to come.”
O’Connor vs. Claggett was promoted by Murphy’s Boxing and Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing.
Bob Arum and Don King Renew Old Rivalry
By: Bryant Romero
Bob Arum and Don King will renew their old rivalry at the ‘Mecca of Boxing” this Saturday for Ramirez vs Imam world title fight.
It may well be the last time you will see Bob Arum and Don King co-promoting a boxing match that will feature Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs) a top rank promoted fighter taking on Amir Imam (21-1, 18 KOs) one of the few remaining Don King fighters for the vacant WBC super lightweight title at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Ramirez vs Imam is an historic bout as it marks the 2,000th world title fight for the WBC in its 55 year history.
King and Arum have long been promotional rivals and at one time were considered the most powerful men in boxing during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Over the years they have fought over fighters, over dates, and were only able to work together sometimes when it came to fight that could generate millions of dollars. Together they promoted Chavez vs De La Hoya, De La Hoya vs Trinidad, and their last co-promotion which was Cotto vs Mayorga in 2011 just to name a few.
King is now considered semi-retired, but at the age of 86 he still has the energy, is still very talkative, and still has the desire to find that one prize fighter that can take him back to the top, whether that means he will have to go by his old measures to secure that prize fighter that can help him strike gold. King once said the famous line “I came into the ring with the champion and I left with the champion.” Though King wasn’t talking about the same champion he came into the ring with. On more than one occasion has King tried to steal away fighters from Arum, even once whispering into De La Hoya’s ear following his close loss to Trinidad by saying, “If I was your promoter, you’d have won this fight.” If Ramirez defeats Imam this Saturday night it’s highly unlikely that King will be able to pry away Ramirez from Arum.
The old rivals reunited on Thursday afternoon in what was a classic final press conference as King and Arum constantly traded verbal jabs at each other and debated politics.
“We’re all immigrants,” Arum said. “And America’s strength is from the immigrant community and we have to find a way to integrate all of these people into what is a great country, the United States of America.”
“We gonna celebrate at Madison Square Garden,” King said. “It is the Mecca of Boxing. And it’s a fantastic thing to be here and be at war with Mr. Arum. Some of the things he said have some vitality to it, that the whole country is a country of immigrants.”
King has vowed that his fighter Imam will knockout Ramirez, while Arum has maintained that King is dreaming if he thinks that will happen. Whatever happens this Saturday night, it’s going to be one fun night of boxing as these two legendary promoters will go head to head for what may be the very last time.
STANLEY SCOTT: Knock Him Out or Be Knocked Out Was His Game!
STANLEY SCOTT: Knock Him Out or Be Knocked Out Was His Game!
By: Ken Hissner
“He was one of the most exciting kids I had at the Tropicana. He would walk in and knock his opponent out or get knocked out. He was a fan favorite,” said Don Elbaum.
Cleveland light heavyweight Stanley Scott, 11-16 with 11 knockout wins and 13 knockout losses is whom Elbaum is talking about. He was 8-2 when the losses starting mounting up. In January of 1982 Elbaum brought Scott into Atlantic City for his New Jersey debut since Elbaum was matchmaking regularly at the Tropicana Casino. He got a good start going 3-2 in A.C.
In April of 1982 Scott scored his career biggest win by knocking out Salvatore San Felippo, 17-2, of Jersey City in the third round in A.C. putting him into retirement. Scott’s last career win was over Tony Mesoraca, 10-2, of Philadelphia putting him into retirement in November of 1982 at the Tropicana in his last bout there. Scott seemed to have a way of “putting opponents into retirement” like in his third fight when he knocked out Greg Lamour, 8-2, of Chesapeake, VA, who hadn’t been knocked out before.
In 1980 Scott was put in 3 consecutive fights with Len Hutchins, 26-3-1, Murray Sutherland, 19-5 and Jeff Lampkin, 6-0, the last two being world champions before retiring.
Leave it to Don Elbaum to find a boxer like Stanley Scott!
More Boxing History
Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Celebration a Big Success!
Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Celebration a Big Success!
By: Ken Hissner
Ray McCline’s idea of creating the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame was a big success over the weekend. Especially on Sunday night with 24 inductee’s before a large crowd at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City!
Master of Ceremonies was the New Jersey Hall of Fames President Henry Hascup who did an excellent job. There were some excellent acceptances starting with legendary matchmaker Don Elbaum’s stories. He has worked in over a thousand shows over the years. “This is incredible. My mentor J Russell Peltz is here and the man I got started Don King!” He went onto say how Jimmy Carter was running for president at the time and how King called him Jimmy and Carter called King “President!” In King’s hometown of Cleveland Carter won big taking not only the black vote but the Jewish vote. King took credit for both! He brought in then Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) for an exhibition to help a children’s hospital.
Hascup first brought up Mike Hall, Jr. whose father Mike was being inducted. He trained world champion Virgil Hill amongst others. This writer saw him earlier and said “it’s good to see you are still alive” not knowing I was talking to the deceased’s son. Another Atlantic City native Bill Johnson came forth whose brother Leavander was the IBF lightweight champion winning in Italy and passed away shortly after a battle in NV losing his title but going out like a warrior! “My brother loved the sport and the people involved with it,” said Johnson. Hascup said “Leavander gave his life for the sport!”
Althea Saunders sang the national anthem. She is still an active boxer from Atlantic City. As expected Larry “The Easton Assasin” didn’t show and “Iron” Mike Tyson didn’t either but was seen via video accepting his induction from AZ. Inductee Ken Condon known for his PPV work talked about being in Barbados when he left his wife upstairs to go downstairs in the hotel to watch Spinks-Holmes II. It caused an obvious argument he said.
Michael Spinks drew the most attention afterwards signing autographs, getting pictures taken by many fans of his and being interviewed. Press members included AC Press writer David Weinberg, John DiSanto of Philly Boxing History, Bernard Fernandez formerly with the Philadelphia News, Joe
Sangrito formerly of Ring Magazine, Frank Bartolini of the Rinaldi Brothers newspaper, Marc Abrams and his beautiful wife, with Abrams doing an excellent job with the PR work for the event. Keebler Media was taping the event and this writer representing Boxing Insider.
Representing his father Lou Duva was Dino Duva still an active manager saying “today would have been my father’s 95th birthday.” Duva put on the first world title bout in Atlantic City with Joey Giardello fighting Dick Tiger. “My father always said never forget your roots,” said Duva.
Accepting for the absent Holmes was one of “Smoking” Joe Frazier’s daughters Weatta.
An emotional wife and daughter of the head physician in Atlantic City was none other than Dr. Frank Doggett. “He graduated from Howard Universities Medical School in 1948 and was chief surgeon for the Atlantic Police and Fireman. He referred to the boxers as his boxers. If he was here he would simply say thank you.”
Nicoli the artist was on hand showing a portrait of Don King which went up for bid with no takers. One of the VP’s of the board who did the electing was Rodnick Green VP Strategy & Business Development for the ACBHOF who proclaimed how another well-known inductee Steve “Double S” Smoger who was inducted into the IBHOF in 2016 helped the kids at the AC PAL! Smoger known to be one of the best speakers in the business talked about how Elbaum ran weekly shows at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino for five years and how he worked many of them as a referee. He has received many awards and is one of the best of all time.
Fan and press favorite writer Jack “KO” Obermayer who passed away approximately a year ago was well represented by Freddy Blumstein one of the best timekeepers in the business who said “my wife curses the day I met KO because I am away from home so much.” Eric Bottjer one of the best well known matchmakers in the business called Obermayer his best friend. Obermayer’s daughter and his partner Darlene, who flew in from Wyoming, saying “he was the love of my life!”
Roy Foreman another VP who managed his brother George and who lives in the area and is now promoting shows in Houston, TX, was well received by the audience saying “without the boxers we wouldn’t be here!”
Mustafa Ameen spoke in behalf of inductee Matthew Saad Muhammad how the nuns found him on the Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway at the age of 4 left there by his brother at his mother’s request due to having too many kids. Saad’s adopted brother Joe Johnson was in attendance. Ameen talked how Saad put up a 10k award if anyone would come forward telling him who would know anything about his identity. As it turned out someone did and told him his real name was Antonio Loach. They appeared on Good Morning America and Saad was not too fond of being called Antonio. Ameem talked of Saad’s religion of being a Muslim. When Saad passed away there was a funeral at a mosque and then at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Saad told me personally during an interview “I’m no longer a Muslim.”
Elbaum spoke how he got King into the business as the first black promoter and took him to New York introducing him to Madison Square Garden’s promoter and matchmaker. King said “they are all white!” Elbaum told him “don’t say that again for we are all Americans adding Kings famous known phrase Only In America!” Elbaum went onto say how Tropicana gave him a two year contract, living quarters and agreed to run every Tuesday night.
Current NJ Commissioner of boxing Larry Hazzard, Sr. did an excellent job speaking of how he spent 13 years in the amateurs working as a referee and becoming one of the tops in the world and becoming commissioner. After leaving office the current governor of NJ Chris Christy brought Hazzard back for his old job.
Smoger talked about starting out as a timekeeper from 1978 to 1982 and starting to ref in 1984 and becoming the referee in a world title fight just two years later. He said how he worked shows for Peltz, King, Frank Gelb and Duva. He gave a large amount of credit to Deputy Commissioner Bob Lee who couldn’t make the event. “He treated me like gold,” said Smoger. He also gave a lot of credit and would expect the next induction to be the then commissioner and former heavyweight champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott. He went onto say except for referee Pat Russell he was the longest serving referee in the country.
Former world light heavyweight champion Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman accepted his award and walked off the stage without saying a word. He had his Local 30 Roofers jacket on and the roofers bought 40 tickets.
Dave Bontempo another inductee spoke well and how ESPN recruited him from AC and how the game has changed since the Atlantic City Press had him cover boxing. He went onto say how boxers like Bennie Serrano became well known fighting at the Tropicana for Elbaum. He added it was 20 years ago today he met his wife Suzie and being married for 32 years.
Peltz, a well-known matchmaker and promoter as well as being one of the few promoters doing his own matchmaking spoke as well as anyone at the podium. He ran shows while attending Temple University at the age of 22 in 1969 and brought in “Bad” Bennie Briscoe on his first show. He said “we didn’t need any med’s in those days only a boxer with a heartbeat or without.” How in 1970 he brought in IBHOF trainer George Benton to headline a show and paid him 1k while the show itself cost $800 to run prior to this. Benton’s manager insisted Benton’s return but Benton was not to be found at the gym he trained so Peltz got another headliner. When Benton showed up with his old yellow suitcase weeks before the event Peltz told him he was replaced because he wasn’t ever in the gym. Benton called his manager Gramby who got Peltz on the phone and said “isn’t your word good enough?”
Peltz remembered that and once brought in Gramby’s prize attraction heavyweight Tex Cobb to headline. He was to get 20k but got a bigger offer of 500k from MSG and Peltz reminded him of “isn’t your word any good?” Cobb fought for Peltz. Peltz said Cobb once said “I didn’t lose to Larry Holmes, I just lost the first 15 rounds.”
Gelb talked about how over 500 shows were run in AC from 1982-85 and how “Russell stole half of my stories.” Gelb’s sons were also in attendance. He said “when the NFL went on strike NBC decided to put on boxing in its place and how inductee Arturo Gatti sold out the Boardwalk Hall six consecutive times. Gatti’s beautiful daughter Sophia was there who was 3 when her father passed away. She spoke well of her father and how blessed she was to have him for a father.
King gave credit to Arthur Goldberg as “his boss who called King the light of the boardwalk starting him off at Bally’s.”
Chuck Zito formerly a Hell’s Angel’s biker accepted for Gatti. “He fought here 23 times and got Fighter of the Year from Ring Magazine 5 times. Bill Johnson talked about his brother winning his first 23 (including a draw) fights. “My oldest son’s wanted to box and the youngest was Leavander.
Former world heavyweight champion Bruce “Atlantic City Express” Seldon and Qawi were two who learned to box at the PAL.
Former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi said “someone saw my work on the streets of Camden and fought with their fists, no guns.” Spinks who defeated him along with being the first present light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title from Holmes thanked his Lord and Savior. The Lord worked through me and gave him all the honor and glory.
Hazzard had played the part in the Ali movie of Zack Clayton. He thanked McCline and Foreman and gave thanks to his wife Patricia along with their family. “She married me and the sport of boxing,” said Hazzard. “We had 3 fights in one day by USA Boxing, CBS all at different places like the Tropicana and the Boardwalk. Hazzard went on to say “it was better to stop a fight a little early than too late.”
Lindsay Tucker of the IBF spoke in accepting Lee’s award who was President of the first IBF with Tucker saying “Bob couldn’t make it tonight but was elated.”
King would be the final speaker giving one of his shortest speeches. “I started in Atlantic City in 1972 thanks to Elbaum. We had 8 world title bouts in Atlantic City promoted for and about the people. I started at the top with Ali,” said King. He said how current President Donald Trump helped him and what a great job he is doing now as President.
Current mayor Don Guardian spoke to close the event.
Gladys Rosa—A Conversation (Part I)
Gladys Rosa—A Conversation (Part I)
By Kent Wallace
I was seated at the “Office” (Legion Post 92) a shot in one hand a phone in the other— with Gladys Rosa on the other end of the line in New York City.
I was solo—the last time I saw Boom Boom she was sailing East on a Junk—but like Sonny and Cher said, The Beat Goes On…
Gladys Rosa is a renaissance woman—a gal who boldly climbed through the ropes of the male-dominated sport of boxing—her influence felt at the highest levels.
Gladys has worn many hats—publicist, interpreter, trouble-shooter, confidant and more…
Plus she’s served in these varies capacities for such seminal Champions as Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Julio Caesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad and Mike Tyson (to name but a few).
Perhaps best known for her marketing and public relation skills—Gladys single handedly crafted the images of the aforementioned fighters to the Latin Market and conversely polished the voices and mien of Latin fighters for consumption in the USA—you might say, she was the mouth behind the mitts.
“With Caesar,” Gladys’ voice came through the electronic device with a passionate lilt, “I was involved in every aspect of his career. He never had an “official” manager and so while Don King did the promotion, I took Caesar under my wing in a managerial sense—grooming him for the world stage.
“In the case of Tito (Felix Trinidad), despite hailing from Puerto Rico he was not particularly well known there—the fact that my parents were born in the Commonwealth allowed us a more personal connection and level of trust. Tito became very comfortable with the blueprint I created for his career—needless to say it worked.”
Gladys was an expert at molding the public personas of fighters but this scribe wanted to know how it all began and she was quick to pounce with a breathtaking narrative…
“I was an advanced student in High School,” Gladys began. “Therefore I did not have to attend classes during my sophomore and junior years. Rather, I was allowed to earn credits by working as an intern.
“I was fortunate to land a spot with the City of New York under the tutelage of Melvyn Haywoode.
“So here I was, a self-confident 16-year-old, working with Mel, when I was asked to join my “boss” at a meeting regarding smoothing out the relationship between Don King (promoter for Muhammad Ali) and the Nation of Islam (Ali’s managers). The mission; to help King leverage his position with the Nation.
“I’ll never forget the meeting in King’s office on the top floor of Rockefeller Center—it was akin to Dorothy entering the palace of the Wizard in the classic film.
“There was a room full of people (all men) seated around a huge table—and while the scene was overwhelming I was not intimidated.
“I sat quietly listening to a string of community leaders prattle on with suspect solutions I found to be more
confrontational than conducive to bridge building—a grave lack of diplomacy.
“I guess the “Tell” was my facial expressions. You see, while I didn’t dare speak up, I couldn’t mask my contrarian scorn for the blather—and Don King took note!”
“Suddenly, he raised his hand, silencing the room and steering his gaze my way, ‘You don’t seem to agree with much that’s being said at this table Gladys. I’d like to hear your thoughts.’
“If silence can get even quieter it happened right then and there. And while I was out of my element, I nonetheless spoke my mind. I explained that all the ideas being put forth seemed aggressive and that in order to breach the impasse they needed to focus on resolving the clash rather than trying to strong-arm a path to reconciliation.
“Mr. King listened intently and when I was finished, he smiled and offered me a job—right there on the spot, ‘I’d like you to come and work for me,’ those were his exact words, and well, since I suspect I was on a roll, I replied, ‘I’ll work with you but not for you!’
“It’s not that I was trying to be imprudent or sassy, but I guess I was the kind of kid that stood her ground—on her own two feet—Puerto Rican pride.
“A gentle nudge from Mr. Haywoode brought me back to my senses…”
Gladys and I ended our conversation with the promise and commitment to speak again. And frankly, I can’t wait.
Gladys has had a long career in the fight game and especially with the colorful Don King. She has many a story to share and she assured me continued candor and frankness.
Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I’m heading back to the “Office” for a tightener…