2010 California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies

Pat Russell (center) poses for a photo after being inducted into California's Boxing Hall of Fame.

As in past years the intent of Saturday’s California Boxing Hall of Fame luncheon at the Sportmen’s Lodge in Studio City was to honor the boxing community’s top contributors and like the celebrated stars of Motion Pictures who get their star emblazoned on the nearby Hollywood walk of fame, the 2010 Hall of Fame inductees now have their deeds preserved in boxing lore. It is now part of the history of the great sport and they and their families can take pride in this accomplishment.

The Boxing legends who were honored:

Art Hafey (#1 featherweight contender 1975). Hafey (53-8-4) will forever be remembered as one of the greatest boxers who never got a title shot. His most memorable bouts were against Alexis Arguello, Ruben Olivares and Danny “Little Red” Lopez.

In 1943, the biggest box office attraction to hit Los Angeles boxing was an 18 year-old lightweight by the name of Enrique Bolanos from Durango, Mexico. Over his 10 year career he unsuccessfully challenged Ike Williams three times for the World title, losing by 8th round TKO, a 15 round split decision (with 25,332 in attendance), and a 4th round TKO, respectively. All three bouts were held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles in the late forties.

Sean O’Grady had a record of 81-5-0, with 70 KO’s. In addition to being a world champion, he’s also a college graduate, boxing analyst, television personality and actor. In 1980, he was given his first shot at a world title and travelled to Scotland to face Jim Watt, only to sustain a cut early in the bout and lose by TKO in round 12. The O’Grady family protested the result, arguing the cut was caused by a head butt, not a punch. Because of the controversy, the WBA, the other boxing body at the time, took O’Grady into consideration and gave him a second try at becoming world champion, this time against Hilmer Kenty. O’Grady again suffered a cut early in the bout, but managed to drop Kenty in round eight to get the win.

After retiring, O’Grady became a color commentator with the USA Tuesday Night Fights program till 1994, then went to Fox Sports and finally ended up on the Toughman TV show on the F/X channel.

Jerry Cheatham poses for a photo with his dad, an ex-Marine who was stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton.

Jerry Cheatham went to the Paavo Ketonens Gym at age 14 where he won three Arizona Golden Gloves Titles. After turning pro at age 18, he KO’d Steve Delgado to become the NABF Middleweight Champ in 1978. By March, 1981, he achieved #1 contender status. Cheatham retired at age 25 with a 41-11-2, 28 KO’s record to pursue a career as a firefighter. He recently celebrated 25 years with the Phoenix Fire department. Cheatham, whose dad was a former Marine on Camp Pendleton, has been working with Alex Ramos since 2004 as the Arizona representative of the Retired Boxers Foundation.

Larry Montalvo is a Korean War veteran and retired postal worker who has run a boxing program at the Wabash Recreation Center for many years. He has also served as the President of the Golden State Boxer’s Association for over three years.

Ray De La Fuente’s dad got him started in boxing at the age of 10. In his own words, “My father came up to me while I’ll sat on the front porch and simply said, ‘Go with me!’ and I had my first fight. Immediately after that I began training at the Teamsters Gym with my father. I fought at churches, Lincoln Park, and basically anywhere they put boxing matches together. I remember my father arranged a match between myself and Canto Robledo’s son, Bobby Robledo, and we filled up the Pasadena Arena. I also fought Golden Gloves but lost in the finals.

Throughout my boxing career my father was a boxing consultant for the movie industry. While a consultant, he got me a role as a prizefighter in a movie called Kid Galahad which starred Elvis Presley.’

Victor Valenzuela started boxing under the tutelage of his dad at the age of nine and had over 80 amateur bouts. While working full time, he began to volunteer his services at the Azusa Boxing Club as their boxing coach and remained there from 1977 to 2008. He is currently the boxing coach at the Duarte Boxing Club where he has trained several national amateur champions and many top professionals.

Tony Cerda Jr. began his boxing career at the age of eight and from 1968 to 1973 won his division in the Junior Golden Gloves competition. At the first National Junior Olympic in 1972, he won the Gold Medal in the132 pound division. The following year he won the gold medal in the 146 pound division. By 1979 he was competing in the 160 pound division and won that Gold Medal. During the next seven years he fought professionally; his record included 25 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws.

Lupe Aquino became a world champion when he won a 12 round decision over Duane Thomas in France. After 13 years as a professional boxer, he finished with a record of 53 wins, 9 defeats, 2 draws with 36 KO’s. During his career he fought the very best: Bernard Hopkins, Verne Phillips, Pipino Cuevas, John David Jackson, Milton McCrory, Donald Curry, and Davey Moore.

Joey Barnum grew up in Culver City, a section known as the Heartland of Screenland. While attending Hamilion High School he was good friends with classmate Margarita Cansino, who became a Hollywood sex symbol, later changing her name to Rita Hayworth. Barnum garnered national attention when in 1945 he upset future welterweight champion Johnny Bratton in Chicago.

By 1948 Barnum had retired and began managing fighters. Then one of his promising boxers made him so angry he got back into the ring. As the story goes, Mario Trigo liked to party more than he liked to train. One night Barnum confronted his fighter in a bar and Trigo took a swing at Barnum. Barnum resigned as his manager and challenged him to a fight in the ring. They fought and Barnum won. The story intrigued Hollywood which later had Rory Calhoun play Barnum in the movie Killer Instinct.

For more than 30 plus years Brad Pye Jr. has been this, that and everything in Los Angeles County. He’s held many government posts, worked in radio, TV, and print, is considered the “Dean of Black Sportscasters” and also served eight years as a member of the California Boxing Commission.

Joe Borrielli, another long member of the California Boxing Commission, was inducted. Borrielli held the all important position of inspector for 36 years.

Born in Burbank, CA, Rick Farris began boxing under the supervision of the legendary trainer, Johnny Flores. His stable mates included Jerry Quarry, Ruben Navarro and Dwight Hawkins. As an amateur boxer he won Jr. Golden Gloves, A.A.U., Golden Gloves, and Diamond Belt Championships. During his six year pro career he was a sparring partner for a dozen world champions and since hanging up the gloves he’s worked in the motion picture industry as a lighting technician. Farris is currently a free lance boxing writer and boxing historian for the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Also recognized in the non-boxer category was Los Angeles Herald-Examiner boxing writer (16 years) and publicist (21 years) John Beyrooty. Beyrooty gave a lengthy account of what it’s like being an on-deadline boxing reporter and how sometimes he had to outfox his competition. After becoming longwinded, some of the dinner guests started to squirm and wonder if a long hook might soon appear from behind the curtain to snag the gabby speaker. A gentleman who returned from the restroom added some levity to the situation when asking, “Is he still talking?”

They say to list all the names of the people publicist Bill Caplan has worked with over the past forty years would take up far too much time and space. Suffice it to say, he has worked with almost every big name in the sport. If a boxer’s name is on the lips of fight fans, most likely Caplan played a key role in getting it there. Bob Arum agrees: “Caplan is the quintessential PR man for boxing.”

And now for one of the most popular guys in the sport.
Referee/judge Pat Russell’s career spans 30 plus years. In that time we’ve seen him officiating on TV for some of the most important title fights and we’ve also seen him volunteer to officiate at local charity events. Russell has officiated at hundreds of fights throughout the United States and the world. He refereed in all three seasons of The Contender reality boxing series, and played a referee in the movie Ali and on several TV shows. He’s been honored as referee of the year twice, 2008 and 2009. He’s a Vietnam veteran who went Airborne Ranger, a reservist who retired as a Captain, a retired Criminal Investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, a past-president of the California Referee’s Association, a current board member of the National City Community Youth Athletic Center, and the list goes on.

When asked about his work as a boxing official, he once told me: “I feel so humble just being in the same ring with all these courageous athletes.” Well, the day finally came to acknowledge Mr. Russell for his expertise and tireless devotion to the sport he loves.

In the posthumous category: boxers Jr. Robles, Paul Palomino and Bryron Lindsay were honored. In 1980, the young men were on their way to represent the US in an International Amateur Boxing Competition, when the plane they were on crashed outside Warsaw, Poland. Also honored posthumously: welterweight champ Young Corbett II (122-11-17), welterweight Joey Medill (34-9-4), Bobby Pacho who compiled 80 victories over 21 years, Joe Robleto (27-40-8), who despite his losing record, fought twice for the bantamweight crown.

Special Honored Guests included: Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Carlos Palomino, “Gato” Gonzalez, Danny Valdez, Genero Hernandez, Howard Smith, plus members of the Robles, Palomino and Lindsay families.

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