|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - February 16, 2015|
The Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame released the names of their induction class for 2015. The fifteen new members will be welcomed to the PA Hall at the annual induction ceremony and banquet to be held on May 17, 2015 in Philadelphia.
The list of honorees includes nine former boxers and five renowned non-boxers. The fighters are John David Jackson, Roger Russell, Anthony Witherspoon, Jerome Artis, Tony Martin, Wee Willie Davies, Tommy Yarosz, Steve Traitz Jr. and Hank Quinn.
The legendary list of non-boxers include a trio of legendary trainers - Sam Solomon, Bouie Fisher, and Slim Jim Robinson, manager Baron Dougherty, and cut men Milt Bailey and Joey Eye.
“The PA Hall is proud to have another excellent induction class,” said John DiSanto, Chairman of the PABHOF. “It is a terrific group of historic boxing figures and we are excited to have the chance to honor them on May 17th.”
The fifteen new members of the oldest boxing hall of fame in the country will be honored at the annual PABHOF banquet, Sunday, May 17, 2015, 4PM, in Philadelphia. Tickets for the event cost $60, and can be purchased by calling John Gallagher at 215-920-8791. For general information, please call 609-377-6413.
2015 PABHOF INDUCTEES
Jerome Artis probably did enough as an amateur to earn his spot in the PA Hall. In 1972, Artis defeated Sugar Ray Leonard in the quarterfinals of the National AAU tournament, and went on to win the National championship at 125 pounds. It was Leonard's first loss. Artis turned pro in October of 1972 with a draw against Hector Diaz at the Arena, but defeated him by decision in their immediate MSG rematch. Jerome continued to fight on the Philly scene with bouts at the Blue Horizon, Arena, and especially the Spectrum. He stopped Alfonso Evans, decisioned Sammy Goss, Johnny Copeland, Doc McClendon and Red Berry. He ran his record to 16-1-4 by mid-1977, and was gaining in popularity and reputation. However in September 1977, Artis met Alexis Arguello at MSG in a scheduled 10-rounder that halted his climb and turned his career in the opposite direction. Arguello (then 50-4) bombed Artis out in round two. From this point on, Artis became a journeyman, more interested in his paydays than his potential. Jerome managed one 5-bout winning streak in the early 1980s, but lost more than he won after that. By the time he quit for good in 1987, his record was 27-27-4 with 9 KOs. However, when he was at his best, he was a slick boxer with the gift of gab, charisma to spare, and the look of a future champion. Artis passed away in 1999, and will be inducted into the PABHOF posthumously.
Milt Bailey was one of the most popular and best known corner men of his era. He conducted his surgical magic in such exotic locales as Manila, Zaire, Buenos Aires, Paris, and other spots around the globe, working cuts for the very best of the sport. His list of clients includes Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, Bennie Briscoe, Ernie Terrell, Gypsy Joe Harris, Cyclone Hart, Curtis Parker, Michael and Leon Spinks, Rodney Moore, and countless others. Bailey started in 1954 as a "bucket man", apprenticing with legendary trainers Willie Reddish, Yank Durham and Sam Solomon. He learned his trade and eventually became one of the best and most sought after cut men in the business. Bailey, the first world renowned African American cut man, died in 2002 and will be inducted posthumously.
Roscoe, PA flyweight Wee Willie Davies had an impressive professional career that ran between 1924 and 1933 and included 176 bouts. Born in the UK, speedster Davies fought the best of the flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight divisions. He won the Pennsylvania State flyweight title in 1927 with a 10-round decision over Hal Stevenson. He also posted decision wins over Midget Wolgast, Corporal Izzy Schwartz (3x), Willie LaMorte, Black Bill, Jackie Rodgers, Davey Adelman (twice), Marty Gold (4x) and Frankie Anselm on his way to a remarkable record of 129-29-17, 8 KOs. Davies died in 1968 at age 61, and will enter the hall posthumously. With his final fight more than 80 years ago, it is easy to say that honoring Davies is long overdue.
The legendary James "Baron" Dougherty is one of the giants of the Pennsylvania boxing scene. He was the manger of the great heavyweight contender George Godfrey, as well as Bobby Barrett, Alex Hart, Eddie Lenny, Joe Anderson, Tiger Thomas and many others. The Baron guided Eddie Lenny into a world featherweight title bout (vs. George Dixon in 1899) and Bobby Barrett into a fight for the world welterweight championship (vs. Mickey Walker in 1924). Dougherty also steered George Godfrey to the #2 spot in the world rankings, during a time when the fighter had no chance of landing a world title shot due to the color of his skin. Dougherty was also a promoter, referee, trainer and the owner of a popular Delaware County training camp in Leiperville. Dougherty also owned the Leiperville Open Air Arena, a hot bed of boxing action during the 1930s and 1940s. Dougherty died in 1949, and enters the Hall of Fame posthumously, four years after his friend George Godfrey.
Joey Eye (Intrieri) had a few professional fights in the 1990s, but eventually found his true place in the sport as a cut man. Schooled by Eddie Aliano and a few of the other Philly cut legends, Joey has become the premiere cut man of the Philadelphia boxing scene today. Still active, Eye is a fixture at almost every local boxing show, and has worked corners all over the world. A hustling renaissance man of the sport, Eye is a boxing jack of all trades. He is a prominent promoter, and his excellent fight series over the past four years, at Harrah's in Chester, PA has produced terrific fights and helped to keep numerous area boxers active. Joey has paid his dues as a trainer, advisor, and a gym proprietor. He also has a second career as a film actor. However, Eye's biggest impact in boxing is as a cut man, and it is that role that has made him a Hall of Famer.
English "Bouie" Fisher was born in Elliot, SC and came to Philadelphia at age 10. By age 14, Fisher discovered boxing, and the sport has felt his presence ever since. He fought as an amateur, but never turned professional. In the 1950s, Fisher turned to the training of fighters - his true calling. Over the years, he developed heavyweight contender Jesse Ferguson, taking him from the amateur ranks to a world title fight. Fisher also trained Ivan Robinson, and was with him for his two victories over Arturo Gatti. He also briefly worked with Hasim Rahman. However, Fisher is best known as the trainer of Bernard Hopkins. Bouie took the reigns of Hopkins' career from his second pro fight (1990) and served as head trainer until 2001. With his ever-present toothpick pointing out of his mouth, Fisher was honored as the "Trainer of the Year" in 2001 by the Boxing Writers Association and the WBHOF. Fisher passed away in 2011, and enters the PA HOF posthumously.
This southpaw was born in Denver, CO, and began his amateur career in Tacoma, WA. However, "Action" Jackson came to Philadelphia to become a professional fighter. Jackson trained under the late, great George Benton and made his debut in Atlantic City with a first round KO. In his 15th pro fight, Jackson won the vacant PA State junior middleweight title by stopping Sidney Outlaw in six rounds at the Blue Horizon. Three fights later, Jackson won the vacant WBO world junior middleweight crown with a 7th round TKO of Lupe Aquino. He defended the title four times before moving up to 160. At middleweight, Jackson won the WBA championship with a 12-round decision over Reggie Johnson, and lost the belt to Jorge Castro in the 1994 Ring Magazine "Fight of the Year". Jackson tried for the IBF title, losing to Bernard Hopkins in 1997. After fifteen years in the ring as a boxer, Jackson retired in 1999 with a record of 36-4, 20 KOs. After his fighting career, Jackson became a successful trainer, continuing to utilize the lessons learned form his mentor George Benton. He carries the Philly training tradition into the current era, working with light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Jackson also worked with Shane Mosley, Randall Bailey, Nate Campbell, and former rival Bernard Hopkins, among others.
Tony "Pound for Pound" Martin was born in St. Louis, but came to Philadelphia in 1985 to train and start his boxing career. Martin debuted at the Blue Horizon with a second round TKO of Ulysses Bennefield. The win kicked off a 15-1 run that included a TKO victory over Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown. After losing two in a row, Martin started another unbeaten streak that lasted 13 bouts (12-0-1). This run included wins over Micky Ward, Livingstone Bramble, and Don Allison for the IBC junior welterweight title in 1991. Martin took the belt with a 12-round unanimous decision. In 1995, Martin dropped a bid for the USBA welterweight title against Sal Lopez, but eventually won that same title the following year with a 10th round TKO over Kip Diggs. Martin picked up the NABF with a second 12-round unanimous decision over Diggs in 1997. Two months later, Martin closed out his career with a 10-round points loss to legend Julio Cesar Chavez. Overall Martin posted a pro record of 34-6-1, 12 KOs. Martin was tragically shot and killed in 2013. He was only 52 years old. We regret that Tony's induction has come a little too late for him to enjoy it. He will enter the PABHOF posthumously.
Kensington lightweight Hank Quinn had a fine, ten year amateur run that resulted in two Philadelphia diamond belt championships, and an overall 34-12 record. As a pro, Quinn compiled a good-looking professional record of 11-1-2, 6 KOs. An attraction in both Atlantic City and in Philly venues like the Blue Horizon, and the National Guard Armory, Quinn started his career on May 17, 1990 with a 4-round decision over Mike Wallace at the Armory. He fought professionally for a total of four years, finishing his career with a thrilling 8-round decision over Jeff Graffius in 1994. Quinn came off the floor in the fight, but still managed to win unanimously. His lone loss came in 1992 when he dropped a 4-rounder to Joseph Figueroa. Quinn was forced to retire in 1994 due to an eye injury.
You can make the case that Slim Jim Robinson could have been elected to the PABHOF as a boxer. He was a distinguished amateur who won the 1947 & 1948 Philadelphia Golden Gloves, and between 1953-1967 posted a pro record of 22-9-1, 15 KOs, as an avoided light heavyweight. However, Robinson's career as a trainer is his true legacy in the sport of boxing. Slim guided Mike Rossman and Tim Witherspoon to world titles during the 1970s and 1980s. He spent time as the trainer of prominent fighters like light heavyweight Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, cruiserweight Rickey Parkey, heavyweight Alfonzo Ratliff, middleweight Curtis Parker, nephew Mike Robinson, and all-time great Azumah Nelson for a spell. Robinson was inducted into the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004, the same year he passed away. He enters the PA Hall posthumously.
Roger Russell won the National AAU light heavyweight championship as an amateur before turning pro later the same year. In his debut, Russell defeated Reginald Morgan by second round TKO at the Arena. Roger moved through the ranks and in his first fifteen bouts, only lost to vet Angel Oquendo. During that span, Russell also registered the biggest win of his career when he beat Leotis Martin by 10-round decision, also at the Arena (above). In the second half of his career, Russell, too big for light heavyweight and probably too small for the heavyweight division, faced fearsome competition that flattened out his record. George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Mac Foster, Roy Williams, Duane Bobick, Bernardo Mercado and, in a rematch, Leotis Martin all defeated Russell. If the cruiserweight division had been around in Russell's day, he might have been a world champion.
Before becoming a boxing legend as a trainer, Sam Solomon boxed as an amateur, winning the Philadelphia Golden Gloves in the 1930s as a featherweight, and reportedly had more than 300 bouts. He then played professional baseball as a Negro League catcher. He became a boxing trainer around 1950, and through the years worked with many ring stars like Cyclone Hart, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Frank Fletcher, Anthony Fletcher, Ernie Terrell, Sonny Liston, Leon Spinks, Trevor Berbick, Leslie Stewart, and many others. In addition to guiding professional careers, Smiling Sam also served as a father figure for many of his charges. Although famous for his ever-present smile, Solomon was known as a tough task master in the boxing gym and in the corner. He died in 1998, and enters the Hall posthumously.
Norristown's Steve Traitz Jr. only lost one fight in his three-year, twenty two-bout professional career. Traitz zipped through his first 16 foes, knocking out 15 of them. He turned pro with a quick KO of Ron Earp at PA Convention Hall, but the majority of Steve's fights occurred in Atlantic City. When he returned to Philly for his fight for the PA State middleweight title, Traitz was upset by veteran Jimmie Sykes at the Spectrum. The bout was a memorable slugfest which Sykes won in round four. Traitz won five more bouts before retiring for good in 1984 with a record of 21-1, 19 KOs. Traitz joins his father, Steve Sr., a trainer, as the second PA Hall of Famer in the Traitz family.
Anthony Witherspoon was considered by many to be even more talented than his younger brother Tim, who became a two-time heavyweight champion. The elder Witherspoon started his career as a light heavyweight. He fought for the NABF 175-pound title in 1985, and won the PA State light heavyweight crown two years later. During his light heavy tenure, Witherspoon defeated Al Shoffner, Tony Nelson, Reggie Gross, and Jeff Lampkin. In 1989, Witherspoon, by then a cruiserweight, topped Bash Ali for the vacant WBA Americas 200-pound title. After nine years in the ring, Witherspoon compiled a record of 19-7, 13 KOs. Witherspoon joins brother Tim in the PA Hall.
Monaca, PA light heavyweight Tommy Yarosz campaigned in the professional ranks between 1940 & 1950 and was rated in the Top 10 for seven of those years (1943-1951). He posted an overall record of 81-10-1 with 17 KOs, defeating Jose Basora, Nick Barone, Jimmy Edgar, Ossie Harris and Sylvester Perkins along the way. He went 65-2 through 1947. His 1948, 10-round loss to Jake LaMotta at Madison Square Garden was hotly disputed, and Yarosz was never granted a rematch. Yarosz, who landed on the cover of Ring Magazine in 1949, came from a fighting family. His brothers Ed, Victor, Joey, John, and former middleweight champ Teddy, were all boxers. Tommy Yarosz, who passed in 2006, joins his brother Teddy as a PABHOF member.
The PA Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 17, 2015, at Romano's Caterers in Philadelphia.