California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction October 20, 2018

On Saturday, the National Boxing Hall of Fame presented the 2018 (17th Annual) California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, Los Angeles, Calif. Two of the inductees, Judges Alejandro Rochin and Benjamin Rendon were there representing our sister cities of Chula Vista, Calif. and Tijuana, B. C., Mexico.

Getting up in age, the venerable Mr. Don Fraser, now 93-years of age, now relies on an assortment of great people plus family members to help run the yearly event.

As you can see, from the above four photos, time waits for no man. (photos directly above, l to r) Don Fraser as a member of the 1947 U. S. Army Boxing Team, (next) Don Fraser the spiffy soldier on leave and finally Don Fraser, the Boxing Promoter plus Hall of Fame Director.

On a sad note, one of the traditional Hall of Fame sponsors, Boxing Promoter Don Chargin, who was very much looking forward to attending this year’s Induction Ceremonies, passed away just three weeks ago. This Hall of Fame promoter of 69 years died at the age of 90 after a battle with lung and brain cancer. Along with Aileen Eaton and his wife, Lorraine, Chargin held a slew of memorable bouts from 1964-1984 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles while offering even bigger cards at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, Memorial Coliseum and the only boxing match held at Dodger Stadium. Chargin later became a consultant to Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and was a co-promoter on the 2007 De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout in Las Vegas. That event shattered live-gate and pay-per-view records.

On Saturday, Golden Boy Promotion’s current president Eric Gomez was one of the inductees into the Hall of Fame. “Oscar (De La Hoya) is the one who brought me into this business, but Don Chargin is the man who made me,” said Gomez when accepting his award. “He molded me, taught me how to negotiate, how to handle personalities, how to deal with the networks.” No doubt Gomez is one of the most insightful (instinctive) executives in the sport.

Talking about being insightful, who do you know in sports who has asked more pertinent questions directly following a World Title fight or an extremely close football, basketball or baseball game? Many say there is none better than Jim Gray. You don’t receive 12 National Emmy Awards unless you know where to be and what questions to ask of people like Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus, Jim Brown or Tom Brady, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali or Floyd Mayweather Jr., Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds, Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordon, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Carl Lewis. He’s been there and done that more than anyone.

Jim Gray is flanked by boxing legends Michael Carbajal (l) and Ruben Castillo (r).

On hand for the presentation were Gray’s support team which includes his lovely wife, his parents plus long time chum Sam Watson who operates one of the most popular boxing gyms in Los Angeles – the Team Watson Boxing Club on Vanowen Street.

Everyone wanted a photo with Sam Watson, one of the most recognized faces in the Sport of Boxing.

In his prime, the now 51-year-old, 5′5½″ tall, light flyweight Michael “Little Hands of Stone” Carbajal from Phoenix, Arizona had been unbeatable and then along came his nemesis, a gentleman by the name of Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez from Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico City, Mexico and he ended up losing two of their three classic fights.

In their first meeting Carbajal knocked Gonzalez out with a left hook to the chin with just one second remaining in the 7th round. At the time Carbajal was trailing on all three scorecards after being knocked off his feet twice. Then came Gonzalez’s revenge on February 19, 1994 when Gonzalez won by a split decision 113-117, 113-115, 115-114 at the Great Western Forum, Inglewood, Calif. In their third and final meeting on November 12, 1994, at the Monumental Plaza de Toros México, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, Carbajal lost a mixed decision 114-114, 113-116 and 114-117.

The one good thing to come out of that November loss was the fact that Carbajal had become the first professional boxer under 126 pounds to earn a million dollar purse. Carbajal ended his career with a record of 49-4 with 33 KOs. In his final fight Carbajal managed to defeat the always tough Jorge Arce by TKO in the 11th round.

Unlike Michael Carbajal, welterweight Jose Celaya’s career ended on a sour note as he lost his last four fights. In the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bout of February 9, 2008, Celaya was dropped by a left hook in round two and then an overhand right in round eight. With his face badly busted up, he ended up telling the referee that he had had enough and didn’t want to continue. The Salinas, Calif. standout, who held and then defended his WBO NABO Welterweight Title for a little over a year, end up with a record of 31-7 with 16 KOs.

Heavyweight Denorvell “Dee” Collier, shown here with both his wife and son, became Mohammad Ali’s trusted sparring partner. “The Greatest” both discovered and mentored him.

Dee Collier’s claim to fame came on October 29, 1985 when he had the golden opportunity to battle “Iron Jaw”, the 6’3″ tall Randal “Tex” Cobb (24-6, 19 KOs) a gentlman who had fought some of the toughest guys in the sport and yet had never been knocked down. After just two minutes and 31 seconds of the first round and being knocked down four times, there was Collier standing over Cobb who couldn’t get up. Collier, who in his last fight, fought Orlin Norris for the NABF Heavyweight Title, had previously gone the distance with Buster Douglas, the guy who KO’d Mike Tyson.

Leo Ibarra (c) of the World Boxing Council joined the duo of first time ever “Father and Son World Champions”, Guty Espadas Jr., the former WBC World Featherweight Champ and his father Guty Espadas Sr., the former Flyweight and Super Flyweight World Champion.

And just like their husbands, Guty Espadas Jr. and Guty Espadas Sr., who are World Class athletes, we soon discover that their spouses are also World Class, World Class beauties.

Trivia question for you: Who holds the distinction of being Freddie Roach’s first World Champion? The answer: Frankie “Fabulous” Liles (32 wins, 3 losses with 19 knockouts).

Frankie Liles had an exceptional Amateur career with 285 wins with just 14 losses. In 1986, he was a National Golden Gloves Champion and won the Gold Medal in the U. S. Olympic Festival. In 1987, he was the runner-up in the U. S. Amateur Championships as a welterweight. After defeating Roy Jones Jr. twice in 1987, Jones returned the favor in 1988 winning twice in the Olympic Trials. After making his Pro debut on 11-18-88, he went on to have 21 straight victories and got his first shot at a title on 8-12-94. He then defended that title seven times.

And just when you thought the women couldn’t get any prettier, up steps Mrs. Liles and her daughter who brought back memories of the late Whitney Houston singing and dancing to, How Will I Know. It’s no wonder Papa Liles had to become such an awesome fighter.

Next, we have the rather large Judge Alejandro Rochin fan club from Chula Vista, Calif.

You will to have to ask the capacity crowd for their feedback on why they felt Alejandro Rochin’s acceptance speech was considered the best overall. Something about his speech being short and to the point. All photos: Jim Wyatt

(l to r) Hall of Fame organizer Linda Young, Hall of Fame Inductee Judge Alejandro Rochin and the show’s Master of Ceremonies.

The speech may have been short and sweet but the number of folks wanting to have their photo taking with Alejandro Rochin was anything but short and sweet. Here we have the immediate family less the oldest daughter.

Alejandro Rochin, born in San Diego, raised early on in Tijuana, graduated with honors from Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, Calif. and earned his Bachelor of the Arts Degree from the New School of Architecture in San Diego. Throughout his childhood, Alejandro was no stranger to the Boxing World as his father was a professional Boxing Judge who held many positions in the Tijuana Boxing Commission eventually attaining the top position of Executive Officer of the Commission.

Alejandro’s career as a boxing judge began in 1979 as an Amateur and later Professional from 1981 until the present. He has been fortunate enough to work over 90 World Championship fights all over the planet, traveling throughout Europe, Asia, Mexico and South America.

After working so many high profile fights which included people like Gennady Golovkin, Jorge Linares, Canelo Alvarez, Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Rey Vargas, Ken Shiro, Pedro Guevara, Wisaksil Wangek, Donnie Nietes, Danny Garcia, Omar Figueroa Jr., Keith Thurman, Roman Gonzalez, Alexander Povetkin, Pablo Cesar Cano, Luis Nery, Tony Bellew, Mariana Juarez, Jessica Chavez, Arely Mucino, Andrzej Fonfara and Julio Cesar Chavez, is it no wonder he was honored by the California Boxing Hall of Fame plus the World Boxing Council with their designation of Judge of the Year in 2014.

In response to the most memorable fight that he had ever watched? He was quick to answer, “The May 7, 2005 bout between Diego “Chico” Corales from Las Vegas and Jose Luis Castillo from Mexicali. Five months later, Castillo exacted his revenge.”

Fellow Tijuana, B. C. Boxing Official and now Member of the WBC Board of Directors Benjamin Rendon (l) and his lovely daughter Monique join Rochin and Leo Ibarra for a photo.

Yet another beauty appeared: Judges Rochin and Rendon were joined by promising super middleweight Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo (12-3, 5 KOs) of Los Angeles fresh off her upset loss on September 13th to Franchon Crews Dezurn from Baltimore, MD on the undercard of that Cesar Cano victory over Ruslan Madiev at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.

Fellow Tijuana Boxing official and newest member of the WBC Board of Directors, judge Benjamin Rendon of Tijuana was like Judge Rochin and kept his speech to a minimum. In doing so, the attendees gave both men a duly warranted warm and robust applause.

As they say, “Manners maketh a man.” In Mexican Boxing Circles, the super friendly Benjamin Rendon Castrejon is known as “The Gentleman of Boxing” due to his impeccable attire, his reputation for being punctual and always super polite. He has served the Boxing community for many years as a judge, the fight supervisor and inspector plus the all important Boxing Commissioner.

Over the years, he’s been inducted into the National Boxing Hall of Fame, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, The Tijuana Sports Hall of Fame and the WBC Legends Hall of Boxing.

(l to r) Judge Benjamin Rendon’s daughter Monique Rendon, Carol Steindler, Judge Benjamin Rendon and Linda Young, the lady who was ultimately in charge of running this year’s event.

Thank heavens these young ladies (l to r) photo journalist Michele Chong, promoter/marketer Nancy Rodriguez, pro boxer Maricela Conejo and Rodriguez’s daughter. They spent the majority of their time instructing people on how to best pose for a chic or charismatic photo. Use of the Tongue, angle of the Face, twist of the Body, position of the Arms, crossing of the Ankles, smiling for the Camera, good Posture, and finally understanding Proportion.

Writer/photgrapher/Hall of Fame Inductee Gene Aguilera’s latest book Latino Boxing in Southern California has just come out. It’s a follow-up to his first book Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles. His goal is to ensure that the boxers’ legacies will never be forgotten.

Jimmy Montoya (c), said to be in retirement, is flanked by former boxers Ruben Castillo and Jerry “School Boy” Cheatham. Right! As in the past he’s been working as a promoter, matchmaker, manager, cornerman, cutman, trainer, you name it. He now operates out of the Montoya Los Angeles Boxing Club and is said to be a matchmaker for Guilty Boxing.

Mike North, shown here with his lovely wife, is also a workhorse. He’s been around the sport of Boxing for 30 plus years beginning in the Amateur ranks as a licensed fighter, then referee, trainer, judge and finally timekeeper. He has also been a writer/photgrapher plus Secretary/Treasurer of the California Referees Association for six years and at present he’s been a Professional timekeeper going on 20 years.

Paul “The Real” Banke”, a former WBC Super Bantamweight Champ in the early ’90s just had to have his photo taken with the glamorous, Public Relations guru Nancy Rodriguez who is shown here astutely lowering her right shoulder. She was recently hired by the World Boxing Council to work as a WBC Cares Ambassador and assists in their “Clean Boxing Program.”

Unable to explain this but it’s a fact, of the 550 attendees who attended Saturday’s induction ceremony, I believe referee Wayne Hedgepeth, who grew up on the East Coast (Trenton, New Jersey), had the most supporters present to cheer him on. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Hedgepeth holds both a Bachelor of Arts Degree plus a Masters Degree. He became interested in Boxing at the age of 14 and joined the local Police Athletic League. In 1982 he won the New Jersey Golden Gloves and then the Mercer County AAU. He had 49 wins with 12 losses as an Amateur. Soon after he began refereeing for USA Amateur Boxing which later led to the Professional ranks. At this point he’s been a Professional referee for 30 years. That’s quite a resume, when you consider his education and all of his travel to far off places like Russia, London, excetera.

After referee Wayne Hedgepeth received his commemorative plaque, family and friends got in line to have their photo taken with their dear friend, family member and hero. The look on their faces had more than a few eyes welling up.

That’s my Dad! That’s my father-in-law! That’s my dearest friend! It makes you wonder, why we couldn’t have had a gentleman like this run for President of the United States? Instead we got stuck with a clown, a lying snake in the grass?

The gorgeous lady who was all smiles, “That’s my Man! We’re oh so proud of him.”

It makes you wonder how much was the plane fare from those three cities in New Jersey? From the looks of their wardrobe, it appears the family is doing well. When Hedgepeth’s name was called out, I’ll never forget that robust cheer from his section of the hall.

Before leaving all of the present day boxers and former boxers in attendance were asked to come up front so that the attendees could take photos of their favorites.

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