International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony 2018

  • Published
  • By Capt. Scott Terra
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

Canton, Cooperstown and…Canastota?  While football and baseball may have more widely celebrated shrines for their all-time-greats, boxing does have its very own hallowed ground.  The IBHOF is located in up-state New York, in the quaint little village of Canastota.  Conceived of in 1982 by local residents wanting to honor two of their hometown boys that “made good”; World Welterweight and Middleweight Champion (1955-58) Carmen “The Upstate Onion Farmer” Basilio and his nephew World Welterweight Champion (1970-71) Billy Backus.  Sufficient funds were finally raised by the townspeople and the Hall opened its doors in 1989.


Since then, the Hall has been visited by countless visitors from all over the world.   Its open seven days a week and every June since the year after it opened, holds its biggest annual event, simply referred to as “Hall of Fame Weekend”.  Dozens of boxing luminaries attend, including current and former world champions, top title contenders, referees, judges, broadcasters and officials representing the sanctioning bodies of the sport. 


Inductions are considered from the following categories: Modern, Old-Timer, Pioneer, Non-Participant and Observer.  Fighters have to be retired at least five years before being considered for entry, which is based on a ballot process voted on by select members of The Boxing Writers Association of America and an international panel of boxing historians.  Of particular interest in this year’s group of inductees is Vitali Klitschko, whom holds several distinctions.  He is a multiple time Heavyweight Champion of the World, the first champion to have earned a PhD and is the current Mayor of Kiev, in his native Ukraine.  He is also the other half of the most prolific pair of siblings in boxing history, as he and his recently retired “little” brother (6’-6”, 245 lbs.) Wladimir Klitschko (also a PhD), co-reigned atop the heavyweight division for several years, holding all of the sport’s major championship belts. 


Over the years, the festivities have grown to span four days and include meet and greets, Q&A sessions, lectures, celebrity fist-casting, a golf tournament, 5k fun run, memorabilia trade show, several live boxing matches and a large banquet style dinner.  Events culminate on Sunday with a good old fashioned Main St. parade just prior to the inductees being formally enshrined and delivering their acceptance speeches.  The parade is called “The Parade of Champions” and includes nearly every school marching band within several surrounding counties, social/youth clubs, police and firefighters as well as US Army Band and Honor Guard soldiers from nearby Fort Drum.  The inductees and their guests are driven through the parade in classic automobiles and delivered to the Hall grounds which are conveniently located at the end of the parade route.  The parade is the highlight of the week for many of the visitors from other countries and for most, their first time experiencing this famous American tradition.


Many high-profile sports figures and celebrities regularly attend the event, with some of the most notable this year being: Wladimir Klitschko, Mickey Ward (whose life story was portrayed in the 2010 film the Fighter), Mike Tyson, Marvin Hagler, NBA all-star Julius “Dr. J.” Irving, current Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder and “The Lone Survivor”, former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.  Luttrell, who was in attendance at the invitation of one of this year’s inductees was asked his opinion of the sport of boxing, his response was succinct “it's the ultimate form of combat”.





“With many things being in such close proximity, attendees are almost certainly able to cross paths with their idols during the event, especially Thurs. thru Sat. night at Graziano's the excellent Italian restaurant and longtime staple, right across the street from the Hall”, said Jeff Brophy, Hall Historian and Event Coordinator.  Jeff is also the nephew of Ed Brophy, who was one of the original residents responsible for the Hall’s founding.  Ed has long served as the Hall’s Executive Director and was recently inducted in to a hall of fame himself – the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, for his outstanding efforts to preserve the history of “The Sweet Science”.  


Few things are more pure than the effort put forth by the pugilists in a boxing ring, so anybody having special appreciation for that aspect of physical competition, and or, would just like to see a wide variety of memorabilia chronicling the sport while amidst a classic small town American setting, would do well to set aside a few days in June and knock it out.    


As for Air Force Boxing, the Air Force Academy includes it as part of the official athletic curriculum and has historically fielded many competitive and successful collegiate level teams.  However, for regular active, reserve and guard members, as of 2016, the AF has stopped official support due to the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) dropping its requirement for fighters to wear protective headgear.  Many Airman are still opting to participate off-base in amateur boxing events like the Golden Gloves and are not prohibited from wearing gear indicating their AF affiliation.