Bowe, Mancini head Boxing Hall of Fame’s new class
CANASTOTA, New York (AP) — Riddick Bowe, who beat undisputed champion Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight boxing title in 1992, and popular lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini have been selected for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Also selected were featherweight champion “Prince” Naseem Hamed of England, light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken of Japan, manager Rafael Mendoza of Mexico, referee Steve Smoger, journalist Nigel Collins of England, and broadcaster Jim Lampley.
Posthumous honorees include Japanese flyweight Masao Ohba, U.S. middleweight Ken Overlin, and U.S. publicist John F.X. Condon.
Inductees were selected by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.
The induction ceremony will be on June 14 at the Hall of Fame in upstate New York.
Bowe became the undisputed champ after beating Holyfield for the three major crowns. One of 13 siblings who grew up in poverty in Brooklyn, Bowe somehow made his way to the pinnacle of the sport.
He won his first 31 fights to get a shot at the title, knocking out all but two of them. He fought only 10 times after beating Holyfield in the first of their three memorable bouts, and won nine of them. But it was evident his career was declining when he had to get up off the canvas to stop Holyfield in their final meeting.
Bowe retired in December 1996 with a 43-1 (33 KOs) pro record after taking a second straight beating from Andrew Golota, although he won both fights because Golota hit him with low blows.
Mancini followed his father, Lenny, into boxing and turned pro in 1979. In 1982, he scored a first-round knockout of Arturo Frias to win the WBA lightweight title.
Though his career was brief, the popular Mancini had a profound impact. In November 1982, he defended his title against Duk Koo Kim of South Korea at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in an outdoor bout televised live. Mancini scored a knockout in the 14th round, but Kim suffered brain injuries that led to his death four days later.
The WBA immediately shortened its title fights to 12 rounds, and by 1990 all sanctioning organizations followed suit. But Kim’s death had a negative impact on the sport’s popularity.
Mancini also made successful defenses against Ernesto Espana, Orlando Romero and Hall of Famer Bobby Chacon before losing the title to Livingstone Bramble in 1984, and in the rematch the next year. He officially retired in 1992 with a pro record of 29-5 (23 KOs).
Hamed learned to box at 7 and turned pro in 1992. In the ensuing decade, he captured bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight titles and had an impressive string of 15 successful title defenses before retiring in 2002 with a pro record of 36-1 (31 KOs).
The Tokyo-born Ohba turned pro in 1966 and compiled a 25-2-1 record before winning the WBA flyweight championship in 1970. He successfully defended the title five times over the next three years and in his lone bout outside his homeland, stopped Rocky Garcia in the ninth round in the United States. His last fight was a successful title defense over Thailand’s Chartchai Chionoi in January 1973. Three weeks later, he died at 23 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident, finishing with a pro record of 35-2-1 (16 KOs).
Overlin learned to box in the U.S. Navy and turned pro in 1931. Perhaps his finest moment was a 10-round victory over future heavyweight king Ezzard Charles. He retired in 1944 with a record of 135-19-9-2NC (23 KOs) and died in 1969.
Condon served as vice president and president of MSG Boxing in 1981 and was matchmaker and commentator for fights on the MSG Network. He died in 1989.
Mendoza was one of boxing’s most respected managers and booking agents. He advised 22 world champions, including Hall of Famers Alexis Arguello and Pipino Cuevas.
Smoger started in boxing in the early 1970s as a timekeeper, judge and referee for the Police Athletic League and began his career as a professional referee in 1984 in New Jersey. Over three decades in the sport, he has refereed nearly 200 title bouts.
Collins immigrated to the United States, boxed in the U.S. Army, and eventually managed fighters before turning his attention to writing. He began his professional career in 1973 as a correspondent for The Ring and also served as editor of Boxing Illustrated and managing editor and editor-in-chief of The Ring.
Lampley served as announcer for over 40 boxing matches on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and has been calling boxing for HBO since March 1988.