PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             May 16, 2010


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Two-time world champion, Dwight Muhammad Qawi entered the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame Sunday evening along with eight other Philly boxing legends. The annual induction ceremony and banquet was held at Romano's Caterers in Northeast Philly.

Also inducted on this day were Billy Arnold, Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown, Tyrone Crawley, ring announcer Ed Derian, Mike Everett, Gary Hinton, Leotis Martin, and trainer Quenzell McCall. 

As is usually the case, the atmosphere at the event was great. The inductees and other boxing stars mixed with family and friends.  There were food and drinks, photographs and autographs, hand shakes and story telling.  Everyone had a good time. But the night really shifted into gear when each of the inductees took the microphone to accept their induction. Keep in mind that many of these guys were so overdue for the honor that they probably thought the day would never come. So the speeches were filled with emotion, excitement and gratitude. Watching them box back in the day was great, but seeing these legends talk about their careers - at this point in their lives - was even better. Each told their story and everyone listening knew exactly how they felt - something that the regular fans could never understand on their own. That is one of the payoffs for banquets like this. Forget the dinner and open bar. Where else can you share such a moment with your favorite boxer?

Three of the inductees entered the Hall posthumously. Billy Arnold, Jr. accepted the plaque for 1940s welterweight sensation Billy Arnold. Leotis Martin, Jr. was there for heavyweight contender Leotis Martin and Barry McCall spoke for legendary trainer Quenzell McCall. Each of these standouts were especially overdue for the honor. They should have been inducted long ago. All of them were around long enough, but the PA Hall moved too slowly and let them slip through the cracks. It's too bad they were made to wait, but it gave there families something important to celebrate (and in each case, the families came out in force). It should be the mission of the Hall of Fame to do everything possible to induct worthy individuals while they are still around to enjoy it. 

Gary Hinton is still alive and well, but was unable to make the event. He sent a friend, Spencer Trowett - a big boxing fan - to accept for him. 

The five remaining inductees all did a great job at the microphone.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown told the crowd how much he enjoyed his time as a boxer. "I had fun. I really enjoyed my career." 

Tyrone Crawley delivered an emotion-packed speech. "I did everything I set out to do. No, I didn't become the WBA lightweight champion, but I was the number one contender of the WBA. I was number one in the WBC. I did everything I said I would do." 

Ed Derian spoke far more briefly than you might expect a ring announcer might - especially on an evening like this. He has certainly seen it all. But Derian's message was simple and from the heart. "This is a great honor and I thank everyone very much."

It was clear that Mike Everett was having the time of his life. The announcement of his name brought an explosion of cheers and applause from his rooting section - which was the biggest of all the inductees. When he spoke, it was all about celebrating the acknowledgement. "How do you like me now?  I'm not Tyrone's little brother anymore! I'm Mike Everett." He continued, "You can not love boxing. You have to like boxing. Because when you love something, it's hard to get away from it. And you have to know when to get away from boxing. Boxing is a job. Now I work in the Roofer's Union and I love it. I love it because they don't punch me in my head." 

Dwight Qawi wrapped up the inductions with his acceptance. "Boxing means one thing to me. It showed me that I had champion in me. I walked in the ring a champion and I walked out a champion. I'm going to die a champion."

Also on hand at the event were numerous local boxing celebrities including Joltin' Jeff Chandler, Stanley "Kitten" Hayward, Dick Turner, promoter J Russell Peltz, Curtis Parker, Buster Drayton, Henry "Toothpick" Brown, Lloyd Brown, Marty Feldman, Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, Jesse Hart, Vic Diamond, Charlie Cummings, Jackie Davis, cut man Joey Eye, trainer Billy Briscoe, and artist Carl LeVotch.

Billy Arnold Jr. accepted the award for his father, Billy Arnold.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown addresses the crowd. At his side are Charles Sgrillo, VBA President (l) and John Gallagher, Hall of Fame Chairman (r).

Tyrone Crawley accepts induction from Sgrillo and Gallagher.
Announcer Nino Del Buono is in the foreground.

Spencer Trowett, friend of Gary Hinton, came to speak for the champ.

Leotis Martin Jr. and Yolanda Martin accept for their father.

Barry McCall, son of legendary trainer Quenzell.

Qawi, Trowett, Everett, Arnold Jr., Martin, Jr. & Crawley showed
their plaques as the ceremony came to a close.

Mike Everett enters the Hall.

Ed Derian after the inductions.

Dwight Muhammad Qawi shows his Hall of Fame plaque.

The family of Leotis Martin celebrates his inductions.

Also honored at the banquet was Theresa Sgrillo who was named the VBA - Ring One "Person of the Year". Young boxers Kelly Ryan & Damon Allen were presented with scholarships.




John DiSanto - NE Philly - May 16, 2010