Boxing Hall Picks First Woman
Jan. 10, 2002
CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) _ Aileen Eaton might have been beaten to the punch as the first female promoter in boxing, but Eaton's long, successful career earned her the distinction Thursday of being the first woman to be honored in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Joining Eaton in the 2002 class of inductees were four world champions from outside the United States _ heavyweight Ingemar Johansson of Sweden, Mexican welterweight Pipino Cuevas, light heavyweight Victor Galindez of Argentina, and Jeff Fenech of Australia, who won three world titles in three different weight divisions.
Those five, along with 13 other non-participants and boxers who fought before 1942, will be inducted June 9.
``It may turn a few heads that a woman is going into the boxing hall of fame,'' said Ed Brophy, Hall of Fame executive directory. ``But in terms of promoting fights, in terms of longevity and success, Aileen Eaton was unparalleled.''
From 1942 until 1980, Eaton promoted more than 10,000 fights, most of them held at the famous Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Her resume included more than 100 title bouts and her boxing cards included some of the sport's most fabled fighters, including Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Carmen Basilio, George Foreman and Joe Frazier.
``She never saw a fight until she promoted her first fight, and all she did was have one of the all-time greats, Henry Armstrong,'' said fellow promoter Don Chargin, who worked for Eaton for two decades and was among last year's inductees.
``She had a mind like a steel trap. She left nothing to chance. She was a brilliant woman, and a brilliant promoter,'' Chargin said.
Eaton died in 1987 at age 78. She was chosen in the non-participant category, along with Sam Silverman, another promoter, and Irving Cohen, one of boxing's top managers.
The first significant female boxing promoter was Bella Burge of England, who promoted hundreds of local fights in London from 1915 through 1940, said boxing historian Hank Kaplan.
Cuevas, Fenech, Galindez and Johansson were selected for enshrinement in the modern-era category by the hall's international panel of boxing writers and historians.
It was Johansson who astounded the boxing world on June 26, 1959, by knocking down heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson seven times in third round to stop him and win the title.
Johansson retired from the ring in 1963 after capturing the European title for a second time, ending his career with a record of 26-2 with 17 KOs. His only two losses came in the rematches with Patterson. Johansson also was the 1952 Olympic heavyweight silver medalist.
``Thunder and lightning,'' said Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee, reflecting on Johansson's style. ``He always had a smile on his face, and what it did was beguiled everyone into thinking he was a softy. But he was a real tough individual. God, he could punch.''
Galindez, who fought in the 1968 Olympics, held the WBA light heavyweight championship from 1974 to 1978, successfully defending his belt 10 times before losing to Mike Rossman. Galindez regained the title briefly in 1979. He was killed in an auto racing accident in his native Argentina in 1980, shortly after his retirement.
Cuevas became a world champion at age 18 when he scored a second round TKO over Angel Espada in July 1976. With an explosive left hook, Cuevas successfully defended his welterweight title 11 times before being dethroned by Thomas Hearns in 1980. He retired with a 35-15 record that included 31 KOs.
Fenech turned pro shortly after captaining Australia's 1984 Olympic boxing squad. Within a span of 20 fights over 3 1/2 years, Fenech won the IBF bantamweight title (1985), the WBC junior featherweight crown (1987) and the WBC featherweight championship (1988). He retired with a record of 28-3-1, with 21 KOs.
The selection panel also picked six fighters in an old-timers category that honors those involved in the sport between 1893-1942 and two boxers in the pioneer class, which recognizes individuals before 1892. Three others were chosen as observers, a category established last year for journalists and historians.