Bobby D to be inducted into California Boxing Hall of Fame

It's staring right at you; the genuine affection shown by the boxers, trainers and managers for the local boxing promoter, Bobby DePhilippis (C). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Once again, Benny Ricardo, the ex-NFL kicker, everyone’s favorite play by play color analyst (Football and Boxing), plus standup comic dropped us a line. His latest words of wisdom regard this year’s inductees into the California Boxing Hall of Fame. Among this year’s recipients is long time boxing promoter Bobby DePhilippis.  

Letter from Benny:

Don Fraser, the President of the California Boxing Hall of Fame, is shown with one of this year's recipients, Bobby DePhilippis (L).

“It is with great pleasure that I get to report a much deserved honor coming to the greatest friend boxing has ever had. Bobby DePhilippis recently received notice that he would be inducted into this year’s class of the California Boxing Hall of Fame. The Chairman of the Selection Committee and longtime promoter and matchmaker, Don Fraser sent the letter below to Bobby letting him know of this once in a lifetime honor.

Now DePhilippi’s name will stand next to the greatest names in the history of Boxing in the Golden State. Names like Archie Moore, Oscar De La Hoya, Don Chargin, Pat Russell, Genaro Hernandez, Armando Muniz, Lupe Aquino, Carlos Palomino, Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Henry Armstrong, Diego Corrales, Jorge “Maromero” Paez, Gabriel Ruelas, Rafael Ruelas, Freddy Roach, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Randy Shields, Hedgemon Lewis, Tony Baltazar, Frankie Baltazar, Richard Schaefer, Jim Murray, etc.

It is a much deserved honor for someone who got into boxing not in search of honors or wealth, but to fulfill the tremendous passion he has for the great and noble sport. It’s why I call Bobby D the greatest friend boxing has ever had. Blessed with the talent to make money in so many ways, he never relied on boxing to make a living. So the ones who benefited most were his fighters and those around him.

From turning out World Champions like WBA Super Bantamweight Champ Jesus “Hawaiian Punch” Salud, who finished with a record of 76-13 with 38 knockouts, to the guy who should have been the WBO Super middleweight champ, James “The Heat” Kinchen who fought against Tommy Hearns.

Down in the 4th round, Hearns also had a point taken away for holding in the same round by referee, Mills Lane.  That should of made the round a 10-7 round for Kitchen. Instead the judges, Cindy Bartin and Bill Graham had it 114-112 for Hearns, while Larry Rozadilla had it scored 114-114.

Hearns got the Majority decision win and the vacant WBO Super middleweight title plus Kinchen’s NABF Super middleweight title. That fight at the Las Vegas Hilton was nationally televised and everyone who saw that fight believes Kinchen won. But such is boxing and this is the sport that Bobby served like a true friend. From those that assembled his rings, to the sound men and lighting technicians, to cut men, trainers, doctors, State officials, matchmakers, promoters, TV announcers and ring announcers, he has been the very best friend to all.

Bobby’s father Roberto DePhillipis got Bobby started in boxing and together they made boxing history for San Diego back in 1973. The DePhillipis were backing a fighting Marine from Camp Pendleton by the name of Ken Norton. They got him the fight he wanted with the brash, smooth talking, self proclaimed “the Greatest”, Muhammad Ali.

Norton shocked the world by slamming shut Ali’s mouth with his fist. A broken jaw suffered by Ali at the hands of Norton in the second round of their March 31, 1973 fight at the San Diego Sports Arena left the former World Champion in the longest state of silence since he learned to talk.

The DePhilippis helped put the San Diego Sports Arena on the map and two years later, the Arena hosted the last game ever coached by the greatest college basketball coach of all time, The Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden. UCLA’s 92-85 win over Kentucky at the Sports Arena ended the greatest coaching career ever. Over his 27-year career at UCLA, Wooden won 10 National Titles from 1963 – 1975. Then after that Kentucky win, he announced his retirement at the San Diego Sports Arena.

The Sports Arena hosted many of DePhilippi’s fights and one that really stands out as a testament to his savviness as a manager and promoter is the Jesus Salud versus Rudy Zabala fight.

Salud had just come off an unanimous decision loss to Welcome Ncita for the IBF Super Bantamweight title. Before a very large TV audience, Bobby matched up his fighter, Salud, against the unbeaten NABF Super Bantamweight Champ, Rudy Zabala at the Sports Arena.

Knowing styles make fights, Bobby made sure Salud was in the shape of his life. He was all that and more as the San Diego Sports Arena audience urged Salud on every step of the way to stop Zavalas in the 8th round. From that fight came three more wins for Salud and a chance to again fight for the title. Once again, Salud lost in the IBF Super Bantamweight title match, this time to Kennedy McKinney by unanimous decision. Salud finished his career facing the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Guty Espadas Jr, Kevin “The Flushing Flash” Kelley, Fernando “Bobby Boy” Velardez, William Abelyan. This is just one of the many careers Bobby guided.

At their last show on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Bobby D Presents featured the top two middleweights from San Diego County, James Parison (L) of South San Diego and Lester Gonzalez (R) from the Clairemont area. Photo: Jim Wyatt

At a local Press Conference, Bobby DePhilippis (L) poses for a photo with ex-boxer, now trainer/gym owner Ernie "Silky" Johnson (R) and his protege and undefeated top prospect, Emmanuel Robles (C). Photo: Jim Wyatt

At last year's California Boxing Hall of Fame inductions, Bobby DePhilippis (C) posed for this photo with former California Boxing Commissioners Joe Borelli (L) and Dean Lohaus (R).

For over 30-years, no glove was ever laced in San Diego without Bobby DePhilippis having a hand in it and now he’ll occupy his place among the greatest of all time in the state of California. From the smoke filled El Cortez Hotel banquet hall downtown to the most recent show on the Del Mar Fairgrounds and all the venues in-between over the past 30 years, one thing remained constant, it was going to be one heck of a show. A high testosterone night where men were men and women were given an opportunity to show their beauty while helping men keep track of the rounds. It’s where the Norris brothers, Orlin and the Terry perfected their crafts on their way to a World Title and Hall of Fame careers.

A “Bobby D. Presents” card was where the boxers had more stitches on their face, than the ring card girls had in their outfits. Congratulations to Bobby DePhilippis as he heads to the California Boxing Hall of Fame.

This is a copy of the official letter which Bobby DePhilippis received in the mail from the California Boxing Hall of Fame.

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