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Boxing Fans Converge on Canastota for the Grandest of all IBHOF Weekends

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  • Boxing Fans Converge on Canastota for the Grandest of all IBHOF Weekends

    Click image for larger version  Name:	ibhof.PNG Views:	2 Size:	626.3 KB ID:	21514

    By Arne K. Lang

    Induction Weekend at the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum is a four-day jamboree. It commences today, Thursday, June 9, and reaches its climax on Sunday when the new inductees are formally recognized.

    The IBHOF is located in Canastota, New York, a town of about 5,000. The nearest major city is Syracuse which is 25 miles away. Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, an annual event, reportedly draws as many visitors to Canastota as in all the other weekends of the year combined. The 2020 and 2021 jamborees were lost to the pandemic, a serious blow to the Hall and to the economy of the community and the neighboring towns. The good news is that Induction Weekend is back and with three classes rolled into one, it shapes up as the biggest weekend ever.

    On the men’s side in the Modern category, the boxers being recognized are Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, and Juan Manuel Marquez (class of 2020), Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and Andre Ward (class of 2021) and Roy Jones Jr, James Toney, and Miguel Cotto.

    Ed Brophy, the director and co-founder of the IBHOF, anticipates that all of the boxers will be in attendance with the exception of Wladimir Klitschko who has more pressing obligations in his native Ukraine. It will be interesting to see if Mayweather shows up. He attracts the paparazzi wherever he goes and he doesn’t travel light.

    In 2019, the IBHOF created a new category for female boxers. The inaugural class, set to be formally inducted in 2020, included Christy Martin, Laila Ali, and Lucia Rijker. They too are expected to be in attendance as is 2021 inductee Ann Wolfe and newbies Holly Holm and Regina Halmich.

    With three classes collapsed into one, the induction ceremony became too large to hold it in its usual place on the grounds of the shrine. It has been moved to the Event Center of the Turning Stone Resort and Casino which is only one exit removed from Canastota on the New York State Freeway.

    It has become traditional to hold a live boxing event at Turning Stone in conjunction with Induction Weekend. The first companion card was staged in 1998.

    This year’s card, a Friday Night affair, will air as part of the long-running “ShoBox: The New Generation” series on Showtime. The featured bout is an 8-round match between Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov (10-0, 10 KOs) and Belgian-Congolese campaigner Big Jack Mulowayi (11-2-1, 7 KOs).

    Jalolov, a six-foot-seven southpaw, has the look of a future champion. He won the gold medal in the super heavyweight division at the Tokyo Olympics as he was favored to do, having brought a 9-0 record as a pro into the competition. The undercard, on paper, is outstanding. All of the matches look competitive with the possible exception of the 6-round welterweight contest between Oshae Jones and Sonya Dreiling. Toledo’s Jones, 24, a bronze medalist in Tokyo, is making her professional debut.

    Among the weekend’s activities are a 5K fun race through the streets of Canastota, an autograph and collectors show which will be held Saturday at Canastota High School, and the Parade of Champions which attracts high school bands from around the area.

    The Grand Marshall of this year’s parade is a local man, Tony Graziano, whose boxing-themed restaurant, torn down last year after he sold it, was a Canastota fixture for 70 years. Mr. Graziano, a World War II veteran who parachuted behind enemy lines in Normandy on D-Day, recently turned 100 years old.

    In addition to the boxers, the IBHOF recognizes influential people in the sport, e.g., promoters, managers, ring officials, and journalists. The 2020 class included writers Bernard Fernandez and Thomas Hauser, both frequent contributors to these pages. Fernandez won’t be there this weekend because his wife has taken sick and is too ill too travel. Fernandez, who wrote a very poignant tribute to his wife that first appeared in these pages in 2018, considers it more important to stay by her side even though she has encouraged him to go without her. Bernard and his beloved Annie, the former Anne Marie d’Aquin, have been married going on 54 years. Hauser will be there.

    Dozens of former and active boxers typically show up in Canastota on Induction Weekend. There is something about the setting that brings out the best in them, that makes them more approachable and more convivial than they were in their fighting days. For many attendees, the highlight of Induction Weekend is simply the opportunity to mingle with the fighters, past and present.

    It all begins today, June 9. If you can’t make it, check it out on social media.
    Last edited by AcidArne; 06-10-2022, 06:47 AM.
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