Canastota plays host to boxingʼs retired royalty for 2008
Induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, located in Canastota, New York, has become what many refer to as "Boxingʼs Ultimate Prize". Ultimately, enshrinement there is more important than titles, more important than headlining pay per views and more important than going undefeated.
It is the one last walk onto the big stage where the alumni of boxing will be the center of attention, yet to get there, they need no training camp, no six mile runs alone in the cold at 5am, no slipping jabs and no eating straight rights to the head.
All they need do is show up with a smile, accept the thanks of their peers and enjoy the boxing version of immortality there after.
It's no secret that boxing is a brutal sport, brutal not just in a physical aspect, but in a mental one as well. The long and difficult training camps away from loved ones, the abstaining from the kind of temptations in life that can keep a fighter from reaching goals, the abusive process of making weight and the depression in the dressing room after a loss.
It takes a special breed to be able to endure such hardships and prosper just as, in contrast, it takes a certain kind of person to handle the success gained through hard work.
A fighter has to have a certain charisma in the ring to attract people that want to see them perform again and again and it's even more unusual to have what it takes to make people remember their name 10, 20 or even 50 years after retirement.
It takes true greatness to be the type of person all others are measured against.
Success and notoriety can certainly be achieved, whether it's the fleeting ,"15 minutes of fame", variety or that of a longer duration, but most fighters are really only remembered by close friends and family members in the decades after a career has run it's course.
The rare success that is forever remembered is the type that the International Boxing Hall of Fame honors. It is the success that is most deserved and the success that is the most alluring and the class of 2008 is of no exception to the rule.
Just as importantly, there are those who do not step in the ring but are just as responsible for helping boxing succeed.
There are promoters who make the matches happen, trainers who teach and groom our ring warriors, writers who boast the sports headlines both good and bad and all are worthy of the same admiration for their dedication to the game.
Here is what some of the inductees had to say during the Hall's most recent induction ceremonies last weekend.
Larry Holmes: Former heavyweight champion who retired with a ring record of 69-6 (44), and defended the heavyweight title 20 times, second only to Joe Louis.
"It's a tremendous honor because so many great athletes are already in the Hall of Fame and it's an honor to be among that group. It's a pleasure for me to be among the greatest fighters of our world."
Eddie Perkins: 74-20-2 (21), former WBC and WBA Light Welterweight champion.
"It's an honor to be chosen by the boxing community to become a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. My family and I would like to thank everyone who felt my name should be added to the great fighters that came before me and to all that will come after me. Thank you."
Mogens Palle: Since 1957, Palle has been the premiere promoter in Denmark. In a country not known for its boxing venues, Palle has made sure the sport stayed alive and running. He is known for being a true gentleman who has always put on quality boxing shows, not only in his homeland of Denmark, but also around the world.
"What a great honor. It's a great feeling to be recognized and it is something to get credit coming from such a small country [Denmark]. It's been tough to promote and keep professional boxing on top for so many years in Europe and all over the world. I'm very proud of this honor."
Frank Warren: Often referred to the United Kingdom's equivalent of Don King and Bob Arum, Warren has helped bring boxing to a new level and has promoted some of the sport's biggest names, among them current light heavyweight and undefeated former super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe and 140 pound ring champion Ricky Hatton.
"What a real shock. I am very humbled and at the same time honored. In any sport or industry that you're involved in, it's always nice to get some recognition. To be up with all the great promoters in the Hall is a very humbling experience. I'm absolutely thrilled."
Dave Anderson: A dedicated writer for over 50 years and winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, 1994 Associated Press Sports Editor Award and 1990 inductee into the National Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
"I grew up reading Hall of Famers Jimmy Cannon and W.C. Heinz. To me, they were always the best boxing writers and to now think that I will join them in the Hall is really exciting and almost unbelievable. These are the guys you read when you wanted to read boxing and somehow other people have put me in the same category."
Joe Koizumi: Premier sports writer for boxing in Asia.
"This is exciting. I dedicated myself to writing so the world would know our activities in the Far East. I am very happy that the Hall of Fame recognizes my humble effort. I look forward with great pleasure to visiting Canastota in June. This is wonderful news. It makes my heart warm."
Non Living Inductees:
Middleweight Holman Williams, 145-30-11 (35), light heavyweight Len Harvey 111-13-9 (51), middleweight Frank Klaus 51-4-2 (27), welterweight Harry Lewis 80-16-1 (42), along with trainers Bill Gore and Dan Donnelly.