Former world champion Thomas Hearns, who along with Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran dominated boxing in the 1980s and became known collectively as “The Four Kings,” headlines a 14-person class of inductees into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, Hall CEO/president Michelle Corrales-Lewis announced Wednesday.
Hearns was chosen in the non-Nevada resident boxer category, along with Michael Spinks, Erik Morales, Michael Carbajal, women’s boxing star Lucia Rijker and Salvador Sanchez. Elected in the Nevada resident boxer category was Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and Richie Sandoval.
Chosen in the non-boxer category were referee Davey Pearl, public relations specialist Debbie Munch, promoter Mel Greb, trainer/cut man Rafael Garcia and Nevada Athletic Commission chair Dr. Elias Ghanem.
Norton, Sanchez, Greb and Ghanem will be inducted posthumously.
The members of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame’s star-studded fifth-induction class will be honored at a gala dinner at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Saturday, August 12. Ticket will be released today, Thursday, February 16 at Noon PT via NVBHOF.com .
“We are very proud of this class of inductees, and it contains some of the greatest fighters who ever lived,” Corrales-Lewis said. “I’m looking forward to our gala dinner when we can honor these richly deserving people and allow their fans to say hello.”
Hearns was one of the standouts during the 1980s and participated in a series of great bouts in Las Vegas with Leonard, Hagler and Duran. His 1985 bout with Hagler at Caesars Palace is still regarded by many as the greatest fight in boxing history.
The Spinks brothers, Michael and Leon, become the first set of brothers inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. Both won gold medals for the U.S. at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and then went on to win world titles in the pros.
Norton, known primarily for a series of close bouts with the legendary Muhammad Ali, also competed in one of the great heavyweight title bouts ever. He lost the WBC title by a razor-thin decision to Larry Holmes in 1978, among the finest heavyweight championship fights ever held.
Pearl was among the best referees of all-time and worked more than 70 championship bouts. He was the referee for both Leon Spinks’ shocking 1978 upset of Ali as well as for Leonard’s dramatic 14th-round knockout of Hearns in 1981.
The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame is an IRS 501 (c) (3) charity and all donations are tax deductible. The Hall’s charitable contributions over the five years since its formation have helped boxers in need and boxing-related charities. Donations are welcome.
The Hall was founded in 2013 by noted boxing broadcaster Rich Marotta. For more information, phone 702-3NVBHOF, or 702-368-2463.
Biographies of the new Hall of Fame inductees:
Michael Carbajal – Best known as the first junior flyweight to earn a $1 million purse, Carbajal won world titles at junior flyweight and flyweight. Known as “Little Hands of Stone” for his punching power, Carbajal was 49-4 with 33 KOs.
His rivalry with Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez was one of the best of the early 1990s and their 1993 fight was The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. In 2004, The Ring named Carbajal as the best junior flyweight in history. He was 98-10 as an amateur and won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Thomas Hearns – Hearns, 58, won recognized world titles at welterweight, super welterweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight during a career in which he went 61-5-1 with 48 KOs.
He’s most remembered for his savage three-round battle with Hagler in 1985, but he participated in many of the decade’s biggest and most electric bouts. He fought in Las Vegas 16 times, going 11-4-1 with nine knockouts.
Erik Morales – One of the most exciting fighters of the early part of the 2000s, Morales is best known for his series of outstanding fights with arch rival Marco Antonio Barrera. Morales went 52-9 with 36 knockouts but is best known for his trilogy with Barrera, two of which were named Ring Fight of the year.
Morales won major world titles at super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and super lightweight, becoming the first Mexican born fighter to win titles in four weight classes. He also engaged in a spectacular trilogy with Manny Pacquiao, beating him in the first and dropping the last two.
Ken Norton – Though he was the heavyweight champion before losing his belt to Larry Holmes in one of the great title bouts ever, Norton was best known for his three fights with the legendary Muhammad Ali. Norton defeated Ali in 1973 in San Diego in their first bout, breaking Ali’s jaw.
Ali won the two subsequent bouts, including a 1976 match at Yankee Stadium for the title. Some observers believe Norton deserved to win all three fights. The Holmes fight was sensational and the two men stood in the center of the ring at Caesars and slugged it out in the 15th and final round.
Lucia Rijker – Rijker is regarded as one of, if not the best, women boxers in history. She was 17-0 with 14 knockouts in boxing and was 37-0-1 with 25 knockouts as a kick boxer.
In her boxing career, she scored dominant wins over the likes of Jane Couch, Marcela Acuna and Chevelle Hallback. She later appeared in the Oscar-winning film, “Million Dollar Baby.”
Salvador Sanchez – Sanchez tragically died in an auto accident in Mexico at just 23 years of age, robbing the world of one of the elite fighters in history well before his time. Sanchez was 44-1-1 with 32 knockouts and was the lineal featherweight champion from 1980 until his death in 1982.
He won the title by knocking out Danny “Little Red” Lopez, but is best known for a dominating eighth-round stoppage of Wilfredo Gomez. Gomez was 33-0 with 32 knockouts but was no match for Sanchez.
Richie Sandoval – Sandoval held the bantamweight title for two years, but his career, as great as it was, is a question of what might have been. He was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic boxing team, but he lost his chance at a medal when President Carter decided to boycott the Games in Moscow.
Sandoval won the first 29 fights of his pro career, racking up 17 knockouts, and beat the great Jeff Chandler for the bantamweight belt. But tragically, Sandoval suffered serious brain injuries in a 1986 bout with Gaby Canizales and was forced to retire.
Leon Spinks – Spinks is most known for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1978 in just his eighth pro fight to win the heavyweight championship. He lost the title in a rematch and failed in two other attempts to win a title. He was stopped by Larry Holmes in a heavyweight title fight in 1981 and lost a cruiserweight title challenge in Reno to Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1986.
A colorful figure known as “Neon” Leon, he was an acclaimed amateur who was 178-7 with 133 KOs and the light heavyweight gold at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. He finished his professional career with a 26-17-3 mark and 14 KOs.
Michael Spinks – Spinks was 31-1 in his career and won both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. He moved up from light heavyweight to defeat Larry Holmes at the Riviera in 1985, denying Holmes the opportunity to go 49-0 and match Rocky Marciano’s record.
He won the light heavyweight title in his 17th pro fight in 1981 at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas when he bested the much more experienced Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. Spinks held the light heavyweight title for four years, before giving it up to move to heavyweight to fight Holmes.
A 1976 Olympic gold medalist, Spinks’ only pro loss came in his final fight when he was knocked out by Mike Tyson in a bout for the undisputed heavyweight title.
Non-boxer inductee biographies
Rafael Garcia – Garcia, 87, is best known for his cap he wears festooned with pins and for working as Floyd Mayweather’s hand wrapper. But he had a long career as both a cut man and a trainer and was outstanding at both. He worked with elite fighters such as Mayweather, Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello and Wilfredo Gomez.
Dr. Elias Ghanem – Ghanem as the long-time chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, and was responsible for helping it to earn the moniker, “The greatest commission in the world.”
Ghanem, a physician whose patients once included Elvis Presley, played a key role in the hearings after Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield, and also was instrumental in bringing the Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad bout to Las Vegas in 1999.
Mel Greb – Known as “The father of professional boxing in Southern Nevada,” Greb was a promoter and matchmaker who first brought Muhammad Ali to Nevada. Then known as Cassius Clay, Greb promoted Ali’s seventh pro fight in 1961. That week, he introduced Ali to wrestler “Gorgeous” George, and Ali patterned himself after George in many ways.
Greb died in 1996 at 75 years old.
Debbie Munch – Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was a legendary host for many of boxing’s biggest fights in the 1980s and early 1990s, and Munch, a public relations expert, was instrumental in it.
She was widely respected by promoters, boxers and the media and helped many journalists immeasurably with their boxing coverage.
Davey Pearl – Pearl was small of stature, but was a giant as a referee. He worked more than 70 world title bouts, including Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks and Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns.
Pearl was also a highly regarded judge.