One of the most storied fight towns in America’s history is Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The history runs deep with a long list of fight cards and great boxers that displayed their talents under the casino and convention center lights.
Their famed Boardwalk Hall has been recognized as one of the world’s best boxing venues.
Surrounding casinos have complimented that by holding several shows over the years when times were better.
I have witnessed some epic fights there, most notably Kelly Pavlik’s stunning knockout of Jermain Taylor at Boardwalk Hall to earn the middleweight championship of the world.
The likes of Arturo Gatti, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather, among so many others, have contributed to the rich tradition and respect Atlantic City has developed over the years.
Well before my time, many others have made this city a famous one with their impactful performances and ability to keep the sport alive and well.
In just its 5th year of operation, the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame was held last weekend at the Hard Rock Casino to honor those who have made a major impact on the east coast boxing hub.
The list of inductees includes boxers, trainers, media, cutmen, promoters, matchmakers, ring announcers, etc.
The recent pandemic put a stop to things in 2020 across the world, causing a postponement of the 2020 ceremony. This would allow for the 2020 and 2021 classes to be inducted together on August 22nd.
President Ray McCline and VP Rodrick Green have compiled a staff of team members to make what is a top-flight Hall of Fame operation. The list includes:
Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins
Roxanne Passarella, Esq.
Larry Hazzard Sr
“I’m so glad that we were able to pull off this event with all the things that we have been going through as a country and as a boxing community.
We have lost so many of our Boxing family & friends during this worldwide pandemic.
So it was such a pleasure to be in a safe environment at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City to celebrate the careers of so many great individuals.
To see so many of our brothers and sisters take this weekend to celebrate each other was such an amazing time” – Ray McCline, ACBHOF President & Founder
Roy Jones Jr
Arriving in Atlantic City very late on Friday night (August 20) after covering a pro show in Harrisburg PA, I glanced over at the casinos.
I thought about all the fights I’ve seen there in person as well on TV.
Having attended these shows in various capacities, the list of memories continues to grow.
From working a corner for a four-round fight at Ballys Casino on a Russell Peltz card and an NBC card at the Resorts promoted by Main Events, writing about the Super Six fights between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson and Andre Ward vs Carl Froch, to sitting in the stands years prior watching the late Arturo Gatti in his final fight against Alfonso Gomez at Boardwalk Hall.
Things kicked off Saturday morning at the Claridge where various current AC Hall of Famers and other pro boxing figures of note greeted fans and signed pictures, belts, shirts, etc.
Among them were Michael Spinks, Angel Manfredy, Riddick Bowe, Vito Antuofermo, Iran Barkley, Kelly Pavlik, John Scully (whose recent noble contributions to fighters in need were rightfully recognized on induction night), and numerous others.
The room was full of energy and tradition with booths surrounding the area from various entities and publications.
The Blue Horizon’s Vernoca Michael as well as Philly Boxing History’s John DiSanto were set up among many others.
A panel discussion during the signings consisted of Russell Peltz, John DiSanto, Eric Bottjer, Dave Bontempo, and Dave Weinberg. They discussed their favorite moments from fights, fighters, knockouts, etc.
You heard them mention fights like Mayweather vs. Gatti, Taylor vs. Pavlik, other fighters such as Matthew Saad Muhammad, and names like Don Elbaum.
Shortly after, the event shifted to the Showboat Casino, where Jackie Atkins put together an afternoon amateur boxing event of 14 bouts.
It was great to see how many fighters were there with their trainers, competing in front of legends.
One day some of the youngsters will be reminded that they boxed in front of Riddick Bowe, Michael Spinks, and Tito Trinidad.
The final bout was a decision victory for notable national champion Jahmal Harvey, who defeated Audean Garcia at 132 lbs. in the 17–18-year-old age group.
The show was well-matched and very competitive overall.
Sunday nights’ induction ceremony at the Sound Waves at the Hard Rock had a little bit of everything.
Master of ceremonies Samad Haq couldn’t have done a better job announcing and articulating each inductees’ accomplishments with Henry Hascup doing a fine job as well at the podium.
Some inductees have unfortunately passed away and some were unable to attend. For those that did, it’s safe to say that each made an impact uniquely.
Atlantic City’s Ernest Bing kept it short and sweet, Riddick Bowe added some humor, while Calvin Grove and Steve Weisfeld thanked their loyal supporters.
Publicist Marc Abrams, well known in the boxing world, thanked many that helped him over the years, most notably Don Elbaum for giving him his first job in the sport.
Murad Muhammad, a promoter of Roy Jones Jr and others, boasted about the revenue generated in the pound-for-pound great’s career leading up to and for the John Ruiz heavyweight title fight.
Former champ Al “Ice” Cole graciously accepted while sharing the news of burying his brother days before the event. The former champ nearly missed the trip but found the energy to make it down and acknowledge the accomplishment.
Others taking the stage to accept the induction were Nino DelBuono, Simon Brown, Aaron Snowell, Kelly Pavlik, Joey “Eye” Intrieri, Ivan Robinson, and Felix Trinidad.
Snowell discussed his time with Mike Tyson, while Cutman Joey Eye gave a colorful speech with comical verbal jabs back and forth with Ray Mercer (from the front rows).
Kelly Pavlik kept it brief and said what great memories he has of Atlantic City.
Felix Trinidad had a herd of people following him throughout the weekend and didn’t hesitate to sign autographs and take pictures. He thanked his family, and trainers among others, that contributed to his Hall of Fame career.
Roy Jones Jr closed the show beginning with a live performance of his known rap song “Y’all Must’ve Forgot.”
Catching his breath, Roy gave a speech about his career, some Atlantic City highlights, and his controversial first fight with Montell Griffin ending in a DQ loss after hitting Griffin while the challenger was on a knee.
The casino town has been hit hard over recent years from neighboring states building casinos and most recently from the pandemic.
Most would say its best days are behind it. Events like this remind everyone of what boxing meant to this city will hopefully spark more activity soon and maintain its rich tradition of world-class boxing.